Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The "Green Screen"

An innovative exterior shading device has been installed on the south facing facade of the Breakell, Inc. headquarters in Downtown Roanoke. The custom-made device includes two steel pipes bent to form a wave-like appearance. The pipes are permanently attached to the building through anchor plates that penetrate the wood siding and connect to the frame of the building. The pipes alone are not expected to have much of a shading effect on the building, which is where the project gets pretty interesting. Through a fit stroke of genious, Stan Breakell specified wisteria bushes to be planted below the devices and connected via wires to the shades. The plan is for the wisteria to grow up the wires and fully encompass the steel piping.

The use of plants as shades allows for super-shading to occur in the warm spring and summer months while allowing plenty of natural light into building. When the leaves disappear in the fall and winter months, the shading devices will allow for passive solar heating of the building. The indirect benefits of this new vegetation include aesthetic improvements to the building and a small reduction in the building's CO2 footprint via reduced operating costs and the natural processes of the plants. Overall, this solution to solar shading tackles multiple issues through creative thinking.

More info on living facades and passive shading:

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