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Genzyme Center in Cambridge, US

The new administrative headquarters of the Genzyme biotechnology concern (see also ill. page 603) is only a few minutes’ walk from Harvard and MIT. Strict urban planning requirements led to a building of restrained form with a prefabricated curtain-wall facade – partly in a double-skin form of construction with accessible “loggias” that act as a climatic buffer zone and that also afford usable space. Other features include movable sunscreen elements, manually or electronically openable casements for night-time ventilation, and coloured curtains. Most workplaces enjoy natural lighting. Sunshading louvres incorporated in the windows deflect light via reflecting soffit mirrors into the depth of the offices.

The complex stepped atrium at the centre of the building is flooded with light and estab-lishes a series of local spatial relationships. Open workplaces alternate with closed cells, resulting in a diverse and flexible office landscape. On the roof, seven heliostats that follow the sun reflect light into the hall space via a “bridge” with fixed mirrors. Moving prismatic louvres diffuse the incoming daylight and prevent overheating by reflecting any direct sunlight. Internally, the light is further diffused by other mirror elements, including a “chandelier” with 768 freely moving, light-deflecting plates (see also ill. on page 599).

The atrium also functions as a huge air-extract space. Fresh air is drawn in via the windows in the climate-control facade or is blown in via ventilation grilles in the office ceilings. The difference in pressure then causes the air to flow out into the atrium, from where it is extracted by fans in the glazed roof. One aim of the planning was to achieve the top, platinum rating in accordance with the American LEED environmental building standard. Heating and cooling energy are generated with steam from a nearby power station. Rainwater tanks meet part of the cooling-water needs and are used for watering the planted roof. The choice of location and the specification of materials were also based on environmental criteria. The facade technology is on a par with European standards.


This article is taken out of the following magazine:
DETAIL 6/2005

Solar Architecture

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