Rainwater Cooling Facade Takes Top Building Innovation Award

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Wednesday, July 16th, 2014
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BioSkin system in NBF Osaki Building
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BioSkin – a water cooling façade system – has won this year’s Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) Tall Building Innovation Award.

Ther award, part of the group of CTBUH Tall Buildings awards, focuses on one component of a building which demonstrates design implemented through the construction, operation or refurbishment of a project.

This year’s winner and finalists all showcase green facade technology at its finest, along with a structural support system that can be applied to the facade of a “leaning” building.

facade aluminium cores

The facade is made up aluminium cores and highly water-retentive terra-cotta shells.

The overall winner, BioSkin, was first demonstrated on the NBF Osaki Building in Tokyo, Japan. The concept behind it is based on the traditional Japanese ritual of uchimizu, described by the CTBUH as “the sprinkling of water to lower ambient temperatures, clean the streets and keep dust at bay.”

BioSkin absorbs heat through water evaporation through a fine filigree of porous tubes made from aluminium which are attached to a “highly water-retentive terra-cotta shell” via an elastic adhesive. The process then mitigates the urban heat island effect by cooling the building as well as its immediate surroundings. Any excess water is then utilised for the soil on the premises helping to “normalise the water cycle and reduce the load on sewage infrastructure.”

The application of this facade system can reduce the surface temperature of a building by up to 12 degrees and its micro-climate by about two degrees.

“If a large number of buildings in a city used such a system, ambient air temperature could be reduced to the point that cooling loads for many buildings, even those without the system installed, could be reduced,” explained the CTBUH.

Living Walls at One Central Park Sydney

Finalist: Living Walls at One Central Park Sydney

The facade earned accolades from the jury.

“This is a remarkable façade solution, both in its concept and how it has been beautifully detailed,” said David Scott, Technical Awards Jury Chair and lead structural director of the Engineering Excellence Group at Laing O’Rourke, London, UK. “I look forward to seeing this being proven by measurement. It is elegantly and delicately detailed, and it is quite outstanding, as it is combined with many other innovations in this remarkable building.”

2014 Technical Awards juror Paul Sloman, principal and buildings group leader at Arup, Sydney, Australia agreed.

“BioSkin is a bold concept, suitably analysed, elegantly integrated into the architectural form and beautifully detailed,” he said.

Two finalists were also recognised by the jurors. Celebrated Australian project Living Walls in Sydney’s One Central Park, and Active Alignment, a structural system used in the asymmetric Leadenhall Building in London, both wowed the judges.

One Central Park sees 23 green walls spanning 1,200 square metres on the One Central Park building. The greenery is made up of 35,200 plants from 383 native and exotic species and demonstrates how nature can live at any height while helping mitigate the environmental impacts of urban sprawl.

Leadenhall Building London

Finalist: Active Alignment

The skyscrapers were designed by award-winning architect Jean Nouvel and the vertical garden by French botanist Patrick Blanc. The visually striking green facade has been referred to as the world’s tallest vertical garden.

“The living facade in One Central Park provide fantastic visual, tactile, aromatic and auditory experience for the occupants of the apartments and make it unique and delightful to live in such high0rise buildings,” said Guo-Qiang Li, Technical Awards juror and professor of structural engineering at the College of Civil Engineering in Tongji University, Shanghai, China.

Active Alignment climbs the side of the iconic 224-metre Leadenhall Building in London and works to avoid any leaning due to the building’s asymmetric loading.

“Between vertical steel elements, there is a set or ‘pack’ of temporary plates that act as adjustable shims, which can be removed or added as needed, by moving the section vertically with hydraulic jacks, and horizontally by tightening or loosening the bolts,” the CTBUH said.

Vertical Steel Structure Supports the Leadenhall Building

Vertical steel structure supports the Leadenhall Building

According to Technical Awards juror and deputy general manager of CITIC HEYE Investment Co, Ltd. Nengjun Luo, the method can move beyond building geometric support.

“It is not only useful for construction of tall buildings with unusual shapes that have a tendency to lean, it could also be used for correction of geotechnical settlement, and wind and earthquake movements during tall building operations,” Luo said.

The winners will be recognised at the CTBUH 13th Annual Awards Symposium which will take place in Chicago in November this year.

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