Case Studies: Adaptive Facade Network


Laura Aelenei, Laboratorio Nacional de Energia e Geologia; Daniel Aelenei, Nova University of Lisbon; Rosa Romano, University of Florence; Enrico Sergio Mazzucchelli, Politecnico di Milano; Marcin Brzezicki, Wroclaw University of Science and Technology; Jose Miguel Rico-Martinez, Universidad del Paí­s Vasco


Adaptive building envelopes can provide improvements in building energy efficiency and economics, through their capability to change their behaviour in real time according to indooroutdoor parameters. This may be by means of materials, components or systems. As such, adaptive façades can make a significant and viable contribution to meeting the EU´s 2020 targets. Several different adaptive façade concepts have already been developed, and an increase in emerging, innovative solutions is expected in the near future. In this context the EU initiative COST Action TU 1403 aims to harmonize, share and disseminate technological knowledge on adaptive facades at a European level.

According to the definition given by this COST Action, an adaptive façade is a building envelope consisting of multifunctional and highly adaptive systems that is able to change its functions, features, or behaviour over time in response to transient performance requirements and boundary conditions, with the aim of improving the overall building performance.

In order to explore the available and emerging technologies focusing on adaptive façades, Working Group 1 of the COST Action undertook research to form a database of adaptive façade case studies and projects structured in accordance with a simple classification — materials, components and systems. In addition to this, details of the purpose of the systems/components/materials with adaptive features and the working principle of each technology were also collected together with data regarding design practice, technology readiness, and economical aspects, among others.

The information was collected with the help of a specific online survey (structured in the following main sections: detailed description - metrics- characterization- economic aspects — references). The database includes 165 cases of adaptive façade systems, components, and materials that allowed a variety of analyses to be carried out. According to the classification adopted within WG1 (materials, components, systems), each of the classification terms are introduced together with examples from the case study database in the following sections. This volume ends with a section dedicated to future developments, where different issues are addressed such as embedded functionality and efficiency amd biomimetic inspirations. The importance of adaptive façades through their flexibility, and intelligent design within the context of smart cities is also discussed.

The work within Working Group 1 - Adaptive technologies and products was developed within four distinct sub-groups (SG) in order to provide outputs according to the objectives of this WG and the COST Action: SG1 — Database, SG2 — Educational Pack, SG3 — Publications and Reports and SG4 — Short Term Scientific Missions (STSM).

This work was possible due to the strong commitment and work of all WG1 members: Laura Aelenei, Aleksandra KrstiÇ-FurundžiÇ, Daniel Aelenei, Marcin Brzezicki, Tillmann Klein, Jose Miguel Rico-Martí­nez, Theoni Karlessi, Christophe Menezo, Susanne Gosztonyi, Nikolaus Nestle, Jerry Eriksson, Mark Alston, Rosa Romano, Maria da Glí³ria Gomes, Enrico Sergio Mazzucchelli, Sandra Persiani, Claudio Aresta, Nitisha Vedula, Miren Juaristi.

Author Biographies

Laura Aelenei, Laboratorio Nacional de Energia e Geologia

Dr. Laura Aelenei is a head of Energy in Built Environment Research Area, senior researcher at Renewable Energy and Energy Systems Integration Unit of National Energy and Geology Laboratory and Invited Professor of Energy Efficiency studies at the Master of Energy and Environment Engineering at FCUL —Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon. She is a Civil Engineer, Master Degree on Buildings Rehabilitation and PhD Civil Engineering (heat and mass transfer, fluid dynamics through building ventilated envelope systems). She is involved in several national and international research projects as participant or coordinator and participated in buildings national regulation commissions. She was participating as national expert in the International Energy Agency (IEA) SHC Task 40 / ECBCS Annex 52 “Towards Net Zero Energy Solar Buildings”. She is reviewer for international Journals: Solar Energy Journal, Renewable Energy Journal, Energies and ASME Journal of Solar Energy Engineering: Including Wind Energy and Building Energy Conservation, evaluator of European Research projects. She is co-author of eight scientific books and author of more than 50 research papers published in scientific journals, conferences and communications.

Daniel Aelenei, Nova University of Lisbon

Daniel Aelenei is a professor of building physics and building technical services at Department of Civil Engineering and researcher at Center of Technology and Systems at Nova University of Lisbon, Portugal. He is responsible for taught graduate and postgraduate courses in energy efficiency of buildings and for coordinating the Postgraduate Course on Façade Engineering. He is co-author of more than 50 peer reviewed publications (journal, book or conference proceeding) and he has supervised 4 PhD theses. The research of Daniel Aelenei is focused on the low-energy buildings. He is Member of Committee of COST Actions TU1403 “Adaptive Facades Network”, co-subtask leader of Annex 67 — “Energy Flexible Buildings” of the International Energy Agency Energy in Buildings and Communities Programme (EBC), member of EU Interreg Project “SUDOKET — Mapping, consolidating and disseminating Key Enabling Technologies (KET) for the building sector in the SUDOE area”. He is also the principal investigator of the MIT Portugal Project — “FIRST - Mapping flexibility of urban energy systems” (MITEXPL/SUS/0015/2017).

Rosa Romano, University of Florence

Dr. Rosa Romano is Architect (2003), PhD (2010), Assistant Professor (2006), with licence for Associate Professor (2014). Currently, she is teaching Architectural Technology at the Schools of Architecture in Florence and in Tirana and working as senior research in ABITA Interuniversity Research Centre, participating in many national and international researches on Environmental Sustainability and Energy Efficiency in Building. Her research is focused in particular on the topic of performances and technological features of the smart envelopes for nZEB. Furthermore, she is working as architect and energy advice (in the field of bioclimatic architecture and innovative technologies for the environment) for public administration and private companies. She is author and co-author of more than 70 publications on sustainability and energy performance of buildings and in 2011, as winner of the “Florence University PhD Press Prize”, she published the book: Smart Skin Envelope: Architectural integration of dynamic and innovative technologies for energy saving.

Enrico Sergio Mazzucchelli, Politecnico di Milano

Enrico Sergio Mazzucchelli studied building engineering at Politecnico di Milano, degree in 2001. From then on he started collaborating and researching at the Department of Architecture, Built Environment and Construction Engineering (DABC) — Politecnico di Milano. His research is focused on Zero Energy Buildings, façades innovative systems design, energy efficiency, building services integration, timber constructions, refurbishment of existing buildings. In 2012 he spent a research period on low-energy buildings at the University of Gävle (Sweden). Since 2008 he is professor of ‘Building Services Design and Integration’, School of Architecture Urban Planning Construction Engineering — Politecnico di Milano. He’s author and co-author of more than 50 publications (journal, book, book chapter or conference proceedings). Since 2015 he participates in the activities of the EFN European Façade Network. He’s member of the ‘Journal of Façade Design and Engineering’ editorial board and of the commission ‘CIBW098 — Intelligent and Responsive Buildings’.

Marcin Brzezicki, Wroclaw University of Science and Technology

Dr. Marcin Brzezicki, (1972) is an architect and tutor at the Faculty of Architecture, Wroclaw University of Science and Technology, Poland. After receiving his doctorate in 2001, he became an assistant professor in the Faculty of Architecture at his alma mater. His scientific interest was focused on the perception of transparency in architecture, including his monograph entitled Perception of transparency in contemporary architecture: visual and cognitive aspects. After successful application for tenure in early 2015, his interests were broadened to general issues of façade/architectural envelope morphology and aesthetics. In 2015 he joined COST TU 1403 Adaptive Façade Network. Marcin Brzezicki participates in international conferences on the subject of transparency and façade morphology, publishes in journals. He is a motivated and ambitious researcher with a strong interest in the optical properties of architectural envelopes. A passionate and enthusiastic academic teacher with a genuine love of his subject and a drive to help students succeed.

Jose Miguel Rico-Martinez, Universidad del Paí­s Vasco

Dr. Architect Jose Miguel Rico-Martinez studied in the University of the Basque Country where he presented in 2015 his PhD about daylight performance of expanded metal and, nowadays, teaches in the Building Construction department. He has contributed in several conferences, books, journals and postgraduate programs as Light Facade Master, Sustainable Construction Master, Timber Structures, Construction and Design Master in the University of the Basque Country. Member of the Scientific committees of the Light Facades Master, the International Congress on Architectural Envelopes by Tecnalia, the Journal of Façade Design and Engineering (JFDE) and the EFN European Facade Network (



December 12, 2018

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