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Passive exterior skin design for improved Indoor environmental control

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K.S Money

While Functional requirements remain the main focus of Chennai based KSM Architecture, the firm’s designs give due regard to climatic parameters, especially the indoor climate, ventilation and natural light. Located on a busy stretch of Lloyds Road in Chennai, the 1800sqmt Vishranthi Office nestles itself among a line of old residences, a few apartments and scrappy little shops and stores dotting thes busy streetscape. Sited on the corner of the main road and a by lane, the building faces north towards the main road, east towards the bylane, west and south towards two old residences. KSM Team lead by K.S Money, Sriram Ganapathi, and Siddarth Money share the design approach which included use of brick jali screen wall.

Design Intent

Sriram Ganapathi

Our main architectural intent apart from providing the clear floor plate for the office indoor, was to work on a passive method of providing a better indoor environment. Provide well distributed natural light, reduce the load on the air conditioning requirement and ensure the noise from the street below was kept out, to the best extent possible.

This architectural intent, manifested itself in the form of a skin wall along the north, east and western sides of the building. Our first point of reference was a traditional brick jali screen wall. Stretcher courses, staggered at every alternate course creating the play of mass and void. We took this basic jali screen geometry and looked to tweak it to suit our requirement.

Siddarth Money

The main design intent was to work on a passive method of providing a better indoor environment. Provide well distributed natural light, reduce the load on the air conditioning requirement and ensure the noise from the street below was kept out, to the best extent possible. This architectural intent, manifested itself in the form of a skin wall (a traditional brick jalli) along the north, east and western sides of the building.

The reason for choosing hollow brick, is because of its lightweight nature, its air cavity allows for lesser thermal heat gain and also because of its accurate dimensions & finished edges.

The panels for light are distributed evenly across the floor plate, allowing for even natural light to be distributed through the floor space. This way no distinct bright spots and dark spots are created within the indoor space.

Materials

Our first material choice was to go with a flatter and longer brick (300Wx100Dx50H). The brick is hollow, with two cavities running along the length of the brick. Our reason for choosing this brick, is because of its lightweight nature, its air cavity which allows for lesser thermal heat gain and also because of its accurate dimensions and finished edges.

The overall facade of the building is divided and broken down into clear panels of 600mm each with white aluminum mullions that define the edges. The infill skin space in between the mullions is divided into two distinct types. A panel for light and a performance jali screen panel.

Light Distribution

The panels for light are distributed evenly across the floor plate, allowing for even natural light to be distributed through the floor space. This way no distinct bright spots and dark spots are created within the indoor space. The aluminium joinery which spans from beam bottom to floor level, allows the light to bounce and multiply, by reflecting off the white coloured floor and ceiling.

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