Progress in comfort

Progress in comfort

Although few architects would say that providing comfort is the primary goal of their work, that is what architecture is about. Many people can, fortunately, see a building as more than just a safe roof over their heads and understand the essence of architecture, offering a comfortable shelter against the outside world. The point is still to keep the outside world - wind, water, heat and cold - outside. But more than ever before, that idea is unequivocally combined with a desire for additional comfort.

CHANGE

The speed with which architecture changes can be seen in more than just the stylistic developments which quickly follow one after the other. If you look at the architecture of the 1960s or 1980s it is easy to see a world of difference from today. The fast pace of change can also be seen in the massive developments in terms of the comfort level of buildings. Here as well, the space of a century brings countless changes, and often enormous innovations will take place over a decade. How long ago was it the norm to have single glazed windows? It took an oil crisis and an increase in the price of fossil fuels in the early 1970s before double glazing started to become popular. The gradual increase in popularity for triple glazing is an even more recent development. 

 

“IT TOOK AN OIL CRISIS AND AN INCREASE IN THE PRICE OF FOSSIL FUELS IN THE EARLY 1970S BEFORE DOUBLE GLAZING STARTED TO BECOME POPULAR”

PERFORMANCE

Rising energy costs and a growing awareness of sustainability have contributed to greater attention being paid to a building’s energy performance. Energy performance standards, established and often made stricter by regulation, are indirectly an important driving force behind the increase in the comfort levels of buildings. Michel Van Put, product manager at Reynaers Aluminium, agrees that comfort often develops from technological innovations which focus on efficient energy use. ‘In thermal insulation we have reached a limit for U-values at Passive house level, well under 1.0 W/m²k. The high insulation value of our systems is indeed a very important aspect, but it is also important to pay attention to ventilation, solar control and airtight building connections. The combination of these aspects makes it possible to maintain a comfortable climate directly behind a large glass façade, regardless of it being freezing or too hot outside.’

ACCESS

It is still possible to achieve gains in terms of improving the air-tightness and water-tightness of windows, sliding windows, and doors. Comfort is associated on the one hand with a feeling of well-being and on the other hand with convenience. These two are combined in the innovations and improvements to the Reynaers system sills and thresholds, which meet the highest standards of air- and water-tightness, even when the thresholds are very low. Van Put says, ‘Schools, hospitals, and public buildings in particular must meet high standards for easy accessibility. Reynaers makes sills and thresholds for various systems which meet the relevant European norms, which permit a maximum height of 18 millimetres. In specific systems we have even achieved the stricter British norm, which dictates a maximum height of 15 millimetres. These low threshold solutions give us the opportunity to meet the requirements for easy accessibility in almost all circumstances and particularly in renovations where it is not always possible to adjust the substructure of the floor’.

In our densely populated and busy urban world, silence has become a luxury

SILENCE

All innovations and improvements in heat insulation, air-tightness and water-tightness also help to improve sound insulation. In our densely populated and busy world, silence is often an underrated luxury. A decrease in the amount of ambient noise significantly improves the level of comfort. Because of their high air-tightness the Reynaers systems already greatly reduce the noise level, and details such as extra seals and hidden hinges improve the acoustic performance even further. The less sound penetrates from outside, the more important the indoor sound becomes. In its own field of façade systems, Reynaers investigates and develops solutions to reduce contact noise which may occur via the façade between floors or between adjacent rooms.

Transparency and the entrance of abundant dayligt

The louvres of the BS (Brise Soleil) shading system permit good inte-rior climate control and provide excel-lent visual comfort

LUXURY

Energy performance is a driving force behind comfortable solutions. But there is also a growing need for comfort which is unrelated to energy-efficiency. Despite rising energy costs, the wealthier parts of the world have experienced significant increases in prosperity in past decades. This increased prosperity means that more and more people have been able to afford levels of comfort which previously were financially unattainable. Something that was a luxury reserved for the very few yesterday is permissible for a great many people today and will be standard for everyone tomorrow – as has happened with the size of window openings and hence the light and transparency of interiors, or with central heating systems. The same is true of the fact that in most parts of the Western world between 1900 and 2000 the number of square metres per person has quadrupled, which has also placed a great deal of pressure on energy consumption. Some of the ways in which floor space is increased are the conservatories, winter gardens and enclosed balconies which can be found in many new residential developments. Such rooms are used not only in the summer as indoor-outdoor space, they are increasingly being used in other seasons as well. They usually do not have complete heating and cooling systems (and are not insulated in the same way as the rest of the residence), but with available Reynaers technology it is possible to improve the wind-tightness and water-tightness to the extent that such rooms can be used nearly all year-round. A last aspect of comfort in the Reynaers systems, besides being maintenance-friendly, is their ease of use. The operation of all systems meets the strictest norms, meaning that very little strength is needed, making it suitable for all users, from elderly to young, with little effort required. And for those who would rather not use any muscle power at all, the sliding doors of the CP 155 and CP 50 systems are available with motors which make it possible to operate these doors literally at the push of a button.