It is interesting to see the evolution of the building skin throughout history, from first being seen as just shelter and the same as a building to the envelope becoming independent and having its own identity. Also, it is hard to distinguish whether roof or wall came first. Although they seem like to different elements, Werner Lang explains they can be one in the same. In the beginning, mans' main concern was to shelter himself from natural elements. Today, there are many new factors which affect the design and construction of the building envelope. As more new technologies and materials emerge, the possibilities of building envelopes will continue to be endlessly developed with innovative design ideas and strategies.
At first, building envelopes were aimed at fulfilling specific functions. Soon after, people realized they could further distinguish these envelopes by decorating them according to function. As centuries went by, this development became into generous and large openings in the envelope, and then into the use of transparency through steel and glass. Then, came the innovation of designing building envelope completely separate from building through curtain wall, which was further developed through the use of new and modern materials. Even though there has been radical change in building skin from the past, I believe it is important to have an appreciation of traditional architecture when thinking about building envelope. For example, Shigeru Ban, in his Japanese Pavilion, proposed a building skin constructed entirely from paper in keeping with traditional Japanese architecture. Many times by looking in the past we can find a way to further develop traditional applications.
Werner talks about how roof and façade have similar functions therefore are combined to become building skin. For example, lighting, ventilation, glare-protection, insulation, sun protection, safety, noise control, etc. These are very important factors I must...
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