The word ‘façade’ underplays the complex role of the building envelope. Far from being a simple, superficial skin, the envelope is a transition between internal and external environments. When designing them, engineering, architecture and geometry must meet on equal terms.
The architect’s vision of a building’s outer layer is often the element that creates character. But the aesthetic quality of an envelope is just one factor among many.
Few engineering disciplines are asked to design envelopes because they take so many forms within complex broad-ranging criteria. They can be intrinsically structural, three-dimensional, or even dynamic, and they can incorporate sophisticated technologies as well as all manner of traditional or innovative materials.
And envelopes are ‘deep’ performative systems. Their design can be driven by a range of functional requirements, including weather, blast and fire resistance, insulation, air permeability, ventilation, sustainability, security and safety as well as acoustic and daylight control.
Buildability often comes down to ensuring a balanced interplay of movements and tolerances between façade and superstructure. It is vital that one never compromises or demands too much of the other. And this idea of interaction goes even further because envelopes commonly interface with most systems within a building. It’s this integration that demands the collaboration and a holistic approach. In an iterative design process, the envelope team must liaise effectively with every designer, engineer and contractor involved in a project, from conception to construction.
Cost, perhaps, is the ultimate design constraint, and delivering the optimum solution for the best value while upholding the creative intent, is the unbending ambition.
So, because of this discipline’s unique complexity, we deemed it worthy of a dedicated division. Providing a comprehensive, stand-alone service, AKT II Envelopes’ diverse team unites architects, mechanical engineers, building physicists, material experts, structural engineers and specialist contractors. This in-house expertise and our range of proprietary tools are the powers we bring to bear on each project.
The future of envelopes will be more adaptive. The climate crisis and rapidly changing needs of the population mean that envelopes have a central role to play in the creation of tomorrow’s cities. That’s why our search for new high-performing materials and technologies is relentless. And when proven to perform, we embrace opportunities to apply them to our projects.