UCL News


UCL Press Release: Bring back big windows

19 June 2008


bartlett.ucl.ac.uk/architecture/latest/events/summer-show" target="_self">UCL Bartlett Summer Show
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 the new thermal shutters is based on four observations:

  • most buildings are unoccupied for most of the time
  • it is usually coldest at night, when windows are not needed and are often obscured by curtains and blinds
  • we have increasingly sophisticated ways of sensing whether a space is occupied
  • 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 UCL Bartlett Architecture Research Fund and the UCL 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.