Breathing in Berlin
by Michael Wiggington and Jude Harris
In recent years, architects have begun to view the skins of buildings like the skins of living organisms: properly designed, they breathe, change form, and adapt to variations in climate. A building that demonstrates this in several ways is the GSW Headquarters in Berlin, designed by Sauerbruch & Hutton Architects, with engineering by Arup. — Editor
This 22-story highrise provides offices for Gemeinnutzige Siedlungs und Wohnungsbaugesellschaft, one of the largest providers of social housing in Berlin. Two "intelligent" systems assist in providing comfort and energy efficiency in the building: ventilation and shading/ daylighting. Both systems operate automatically in response to climatic conditions, and both can be overridden by occupants.
The 515,000-square-foot (47,873-square meter) building is naturally ventilated for 70 percent of the year, and ventilation in low wind conditions is induced by a thermal flue formed by a single-glazed skin 3.3 feet (1 meter) from the inner double-glazed west facade.
This double wall also protects against heat loss. Airflow into the base of the flue and out of the top is regulated by dampers controlled by the building management system, which also controls airflow from the building into the flue. >>>
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This article is excerpted from Intelligent Skins by Michael Wigginton and Jude Harris, with permission of the publisher, Architectural Press.
West-facing facade of the GSW Headquarters in Berlin, designed by Sauerbruch & Hutton Architects.
Photo: Annette Kisling, Butter + Bredt, Kisling und Bruns
The 22-story tower was built adjacent to an existing 17-story office building. Section looking south.
Image: Sauerbruch Hutton Architects
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