Office-user oriented façade design

an interactive/adaptive design approach

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Users in traditional office buildings often experience discomfort with the indoor environment and have issues with how this is being regulated. Research has shown that users’ satisfaction in an office building, which consists of their comfort and health, reflects on their work productivity. Therefore, necessary measures need to be taken in order to be able to suffice the office users’ needs. Also, due to the fact that the building sector in Europe is responsible for an energy consumption of 40% of the final energy use and this leads to high carbon emissions and dependence on fossil fuels, the European Commission has stipulated regulations, where it is stated that all new buildings have to be nearly zero-energy by the beginning of 2021. Due to the fact that the façade is one of the buildings’ components which has high impact on the indoor comfort and energy use of the building, taking the user’s comfort needs and designing this from the conceptual design phase, can help achieve user satisfaction and enhance work productivity, while also helping achieve nearly energy neutrality.

This research aims to investigate the relevant factors of user satisfaction that could be implemented into façade design, while also investigating state of the art interactive/adaptive façade technologies (passive and active) and energy efficient façade design methods, in order to provide design solutions which optimally satisfies office users’ needs of comfort, and therefore increases work productivity, and also supports nearly energy neutrality of office buildings. This leads to the research question of, “How can an interactive/adaptive office building façade element be designed to optimally satisfy its users in order to increase work productivity and to support nearly energy neutrality of office buildings?”. Optimal indoor satisfaction is defined as office users being thermally comfortable, experiencing comfort in the air quality indoors, the acoustics, and the lighting, and also when other human preferences are met such as, having control of their environment, having a view, and having an appealing place to work.

Based on literature review regarding user satisfaction, façade design, state of the art interactive/adaptive technologies, and energy efficient design methods, the design considerations were stipulated. These are user comfort, user control, energy efficiency, and user preferences. The user preferences is the most subjective criteria, because it expresses the preferences and desires of specific type of people. Therefore, this research presents office façade designs for specific type of users, namely the Energy Efficient archetype, the Self-Adaptive environment archetype, and the Full-Control of their environment archetype. The evaluation of these design configurations show that it is almost impossible to have one interactive/adaptive façade design that complies with all of the user
preferences of all types of users, because every type of user has different preferences and some might contradict each other. Nevertheless, this research concludes on design characteristics derived from the presented design
configurations, which show how the most optimal officer-user oriented façade design should function, that can ensure user satisfaction for different types of users and can help its building become nearly energy neutral.