AUSTIN ENERGY GREEN BUILDING HEADQUARTERS
The other unique aspect of this building is its experimental double facade system. The idea is to separate the solar load from the insulated envelope. The goal is to permit light while reflecting heat. This is the basic challenge of all insulated, inhabited structures. The brise-soleil (exterior louver) is a classic solution. Additionally, there exists a panoply of ingenious materials and systems that are being developed to facilitate this exchange, many of which use mechanical, chemical or even biological mechanisms to modulate the solar energy to which they are incident. The trouble is that no matter how clever a system is, architecture makes a poor prototype upon which to deploy it. The structures are too big, too expensive and too enduring to warrant the risk. Thus I do not find that the primary obstacle is technological, but rather the inability to exploit technology in an architecturally relevant way. The problem, essentially, is to make architecture prototypically feasible.
To this end I devised an external system of bays into which could easily be installed new or existing shading systems without compromising the integrity of the building's structure or aesthetics. The system I chose to represent in the model below was basic foliage (I imagine bamboo screens in easily serviceable trays) but the point is any number of things could be used. Different systems could be employed on different solar aspects, or even patched together on the same facade in mosaic or collage, behind all of which a lightweight glass storefront could be employed, happily unstressed. As the headquarters of the Austin Energy Green Building department it would be a beacon for innovation, even allowing the public to circulate along the open corridors between the two 'envelopes' to participate in the experiment. The building would be able to grow, to adapt, to remain relevant.