Trust The Tyee’s Chris Cheung who consistently finds the story in front of the headline, and his latest article does not disappoint. Douglas Coupland wrote a book on Vancouver called “City of Glass” describing Vancouver’s towerscape, which is tall, not particularly inviting to look at, and appears to have a whole lot of glass.
Chris Cheung introduces Genta Ishiumura, a recent graduate in Architecture who looked at Vancouver’s glass landscape after taking a course on “window behaviourology” in Switzerland from Tokyo architect Momoyo Kaijima.
In a time when we are moving toward a more sustainable city, Ishimura notes that the floor to ceiling glass walls of towers are energy wasters, requiring a lot of energy to maintain ambient temperatures. The glass towers are also rather impersonal~in Vancouver it has not been about the close views, but the long range distant vistas. And focusing on the long range views adds “a lack of intimacy and creates a disconnection between occupants and the world outside”.
Ishimura suggests a two fold approach in his thesis work: firstly, create a new exoskeleton for existing towers to deal with the energy loss of huge windows. Secondly, use the opportunity provided by the exoskeleton to create new windows and balconies for more floor space with a flexible use.
“His proposed exoskeleton for the building would be constructed like this. Skin the building by removing the existing windows and replacing them with new framed window walls. Then, install balconies for each unit. To enclose the balconies, install a second skin of framed window walls.”
With this thermal-bridge construction energy could be retained within the building, also providing protection from heat in the summer.The exoskeleton also creates shading from the south and west, which are prone to overheat in the summer, reducing the need for air-conditioning. And there is a precedent-you can take a look at the before and after photos of Grand Parc in Bordeaux France where a 1960’s building received a new exoskeleton and a new lease on livability.
In terms of getting this done, Ishimura thinks the city may allow increased floor space for the balconies as there is already a floor space bonusing for net-zero buildings.
You can also explore the cultural importance of windows in this YouTube below featuring Atelier Bow Wow architects Yoshiharu Tsukamoto and Momoyo Kaijima .
Image: The Guardian