This is second of a two part interview of Ken Yeang one of the earliest thinkers and designers in the field of sustainable architecture. The interview was conducted by Mic Patterson of Enclos who will be introducing Yeang at The Architect’s Newspaper’s Facades+PERFORMANCE conference on July 11 in San Francisco.
Mic Patterson: Your work clearly demonstrates that concepts of bioclimatic design are readily scalable from the residence to the skyscraper to the urban environment. How do the considerations of bioclimatic design apply at the scale of building subassembly or the the building skin?
Ken Yeang: At the sub-assembly level, we have developed devices such as the ‘raincheck’ wall being a glazing façade system that lets in ventilation but keeps out rain. Another device we are working on is a ‘solar chimney’ that uses a double-glazed glass-shaft to naturally ventilate internal spaces.
MP: Many of your designs include an expansive use of glass, often a challenge with respect to solar control and energy performance. What are the considerations for glass use in your bioclimatic design process.
KY: It sounds facile, but giving joy and happiness to occupants is an essential aspect of why we are architects. Much of our work is about “enabling users’ dreams come true” by design. One way to give spaces a feeling of cheerfulness is the enabling the simple enjoyment of daylight as it enters a space or as it brightens up a space in the morning – which the use of glass combined with façade design and roof-light devices can achieve. In addition solar control can be achieved with various solar shading systems. Enhanced energy performance can be mitigate using double glazing or ‘low-e’ glass.Finally we cannot overlook the opportunity to look out from the inside, to create vistas are aspects that glass enables.
MP: What are the predominant drivers of your design process beyond climate and ecology?
KY: Our overarching objective to advance the field of ecodesign and ecomasterplanning. The first driver is a committed pursuit of innovation and invention in the advancement of this field of endeavour. Discovering a new idea (the ‘eureka’ moment) is the buzz in what we do. We see innovation not just at the level of ‘product’ but at ‘processes’ (the way things are done) and at the level of ‘premises’ (the principles or theory of why things are done). Everyday in every project, we are searching for ways to innovate. This can be achieved at various levels and at product, process and premises (e.g. at the level of architecture, at the level of urban design and master planning, at the macro level of economics, business and industry, at the micro level of subassembly, etc.). The second driver is aesthetics being the pursuit of an ‘ecoaesthetic’ – essentially asking, “what does an ecodesign or ecoarchitecure or an ecomasterplan look like?” I believe that ecodesign deserves its own aesthetic that It should look like a ‘living system’. We are always asking ourselves, what should a ‘constructed ecosystem’ look like?