Double-skin facade

The double-skin facade is a system of building two skins, or facades , placed in such a way that flows into the intermediate cavity. The ventilation of the cavity can be natural, fan supported or mechanical. Apart from the type of ventilation inside the cavity, the use of the building, the location of the building and the HVAC strategy.

The glass skins can be single or double glazing units with a distance of 20 cm up to 2 meters. Often, for protection and heat extraction during the cooling period, solar shading devices are placed inside the cavity.


The essential concept of the Double Skin Facade was first explored and tested by the Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier in the early 20th century. His idea, he called Expired qui neutralizing Wall (neutralizing wall) Involved insertion of the heating / cooling pipes entre broad layers of glass. Such a system was employed in his Villa Schwob ( La Chaux-de-Fonds , Switzerland , 1916), and proposed for several other projects, including the League of Nations competition (1927), Centrosoyuz building (Moscow, 1928-33), and City of Refuge ( Paris, 1930). American engineers studying the system in 1930 informed Le Corbusier that it would be much more energy than a conventional system, but Harvey Bryan later concluded Le Corbusier’s idea had merit if it included solar heating. [1]

Another early experiment was the 1937 Alfred Loomis house by architect William Lescaze in Tuxedo Park, NY. This house included “an elaborate double envelope” with a 2-foot-deep air conditioned by a separate system from the house itself. The object was to maintain high humidity levels inside. [2]

One of the first modern examples to be constructed at the Western Chemical Building (Niagara Falls, New York, 1980) by Cannon Design. [3] This building, essentially a glass cube, included a 4-feet-deep cavity between glass layers to pre-heat air in winter. [4]

The recent resurgence of efficient building design Since the USGBC rewards points for reduction in energy consumption vs. a base case, this strategy has been used to optimize energy performance of buildings.


The Gherkin in London. Windows open on the outer skin to allow air to enter the cavity between the inner and outer skin.
One Angel Square in Manchester. The use of a double skin is obvious in construction.

Examples of notable buildings which uses a double skin facade are 30 St Mary Ax (also known as The Gherkin ) and 1 Angel Square . Both of these buildings achieve great environmental credentials for their size, with the benefits of a double skin key to this. The Gherkin features triangular windows on the outer skin which skilter up the skyscraper. These windows open the way to weather and building data.

Technical Details

The cavity between the two skins may be naturally or mechanically ventilated. In cool climates the solar gain dans le cavity May be circulated to the occupied space to offset heating requirements, while in hot climates the cavity May be vented out of the building to Mitigate solar gain and Decrease the cooling load. In each case the assumption is that a higher insulative value can be achieved by using this glazing configuration versus a standard glazing configuration.

Recent studies have shown that the energy performance of a building connected to a double-skin facade can be improved both in the cold and the warm season or in cold climates by optimizing the ventilation strategy of the facade. [5]


The advantages of double skin facades Similar insulative values ​​can be derived from high performance, low-e windows. The cavity results in a usable floor space, and depending on the strategy for ventilating the cavity. The construction of a second skin may also present a significant increase in materials and design costs.

Building energy modeling of double-skin facades is inherently more difficulty Because of varying, heat transfer properties dans le cavity, making the modeling of energy performance and the prediction of savings debatable. [6]

Reviews of the literature

A literature review on Double-skin Facades was written by Harris Poirazis in 2004. [7] The main aim of the report is to describe the concept of Double-skin Facades based on different sources of literature. The literature survey covers a brief description of the concept, a history and a common double-skin facade types and classifications. A technical description including construction parameters, (façade) The possibilities and limitations of the system are described and the advantages and disadvantages are presented. Daylight simulations control strategies are also discussed. Finally, roughly 50 cases studies are briefly described.

In order to serve as a literature postponement for the SHC IEA Task 34 / ECBCS Annex 43 [8] extensive year description of modeling approaches and methods for DSF Was added in the Existing literature review report (in 2006), covering modeling issues Including airflow and thermal simulations. [9] In his PhD thesis, an analysis of different types of double skin is used. [10]

See also

  • Airflow window
  • rainscreen


  1. Jump up^ Bryan, Harvey (1991). “Le Corbusier and the” Neutralisant Wall “: An Early Experiment in Double Envelope Construction”. Proceedings of the Ninth International PLEA Conference . pp. 257-62.
  2. Jump up^ Braham, William (2005). “Active Glass Walls: A Typological and Historical Account” .
  3. Jump up^ Meyer Boake, Terri. “The Tectonics of the Double Skin: Green Building or Just Hi-Tech Hi-Jinx?” (PDF) .
  4. Jump up^ Grondzik, Walter T .; Alison G. Kwok; Benjamin Stein; John S. Reynolds (2009). Mechanical and Electrical Equipment for Buildings . John Wiley and Sons . p. 133.
  5. Jump up^ Mingotti, Nicola; Chenvidyakarn Torwong; Woods AW (2010). “The fluid mechanics of the natural ventilation of a narrow-cavity double-skin facade” . Building and Environment . 46 : 807-823. doi : 10.1016 / j.buildenv.2010.09.015 .
  6. Jump up^ “Home” (PDF) . . Retrieved 2012-12-27 . permanent dead link ]
  7. Jump up^
  8. Jump up^ ArchivedDecember 13, 2009, at theWayback Machine.
  9. Jump up^
  10. Jump up^

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