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Bring back big windows

Publication date: Jun 18, 2008 11:02:05 PM

New 'intelligent' thermal shutters will be on display during the UCL Bartlett Summer Show, which runs from 21-28 June 2008 and is open to the public. The thermal shutters, built into a show pavilion, will automatically open or shut when it is too hot or too cold outside, minimizing loss of heat energy from the pavilion. The shutters are designed to encourage big windows back into buildings, countering recent trends to reduce window size to prevent heat loss.

Professor Stephen Gage, UCL Bartlett School of Architecture, says: “Over the past few centuries, buildings have become lighter with more glass introduced into their walls. Now windows are shrinking again, sometimes to medieval proportions, to reduce heat loss from buildings. Heat energy can go through windows five to 20 times faster than through well-insulated walls. Sadly, the use of windows to flood spaces with light is being lost, and people find themselves living drab lives under increasingly dull artificial lighting. We want to bring big windows back to buildings.

“The design of our new thermal shutters is based on four observations: 1) most buildings are unoccupied for most of the time; 2) it is usually coldest at night, when windows are not needed and are often obscured by curtains and blinds; 3) we have increasingly sophisticated ways of sensing whether a space is occupied; and 4) advances in technology means it is possible to construct a set of shutters that could insulate a building on a cold, dark winter day, open locally on demand on a spring morning and open fully on a sunny afternoon.

“We have built an experimental pavilion which wraps itself up when it is cold and when no one is there, and unwraps itself when weather conditions are favourable or when occupants want this. The pavilion will be on display for the duration of the UCL Bartlett Summer Show, as part of the London Festival of Architecture.”

The pavilion project is funded by UrbanBuzz, Make Architects, DSP Architecture, The Bartlett Architecture Research Fund and UCL’s Graduate School.

The Summer Show is the annual celebration of student work at the UCL Bartlett School of Architecture. Over 450 students show innovative drawings, models, devices, texts, animations and installations.

Notes for Editors

1. The UCL Bartlett Summer Show will run from Saturday 21 June 2008 to Saturday 28 June 2008. More information can be found at http://www.bartlett.ucl.ac.uk/architecture/events/summer/summer.htm.

2. The ‘intelligent’ pavilion is a modified transport container that is being fitted out by Bartlett students, led by Professor Stephen Gage, e-mail: s.gage@ucl.ac.uk, mobile: +44 (0)7509 160107 and researcher Chris Leung, e-mail: christopher.leung@ucl.ac.uk, mobile +44 (0)7722 898932. The pavilion will be on display in the Main Quad, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT.

3. Journalists who wish to attend the event or find out more should contact Jenny Gimpel, UCL Media Relations Office on tel: +44 (0)20 7679 9726, mobile +44 (0)7747 565 056, out of hours +44 (0)7917 271 364, e-mail: j.gimpel@ucl.ac.uk.

4. The pavilion project is supported by a steering group that includes Matthew Bugg (Make Architects), Bill Watts (Max Fordham Consulting Engineers), Fred Guttfield, Joe Moorhouse (DSP Architecture) and Professor Stephen Gage, researcher Chris Leung and Nick Browne (UCL).

5. The modified container is being made by Urban Space Management at Trinity Buoy Wharf, who have donated space for assembly and testing. Prototype piston assembly components are being made by Ehlert Stahlbau, a German steelwork company managed by Bartlett alumnae Nick Callicott and Kristina Ehlert. More information can be found at http://www.deployable.org.uk