Green with glass

Green with glass
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First Published: Tue, Apr 21 2009. 10 28 PM IST

 Thinking design: (top) The reliance on artificial lighting is reduced substantially because courtyards help increase natural light levels on every floor; (bottom) The entry of light is carefully regu
Thinking design: (top) The reliance on artificial lighting is reduced substantially because courtyards help increase natural light levels on every floor; (bottom) The entry of light is carefully regu
Updated: Tue, Apr 21 2009. 10 28 PM IST
Modern workplaces run the risk of being energy-inefficient. The most common design for a contemporary office building is a sealed box with a glass-and-metal façade which traps heat, necessitates high air-conditioning loads and requires the use of blinds and artificial lighting.
Thinking design: (top) The reliance on artificial lighting is reduced substantially because courtyards help increase natural light levels on every floor; (bottom) The entry of light is carefully regulated in the reception area so that the need for artificial lighting and air conditioning is reduced. Photographs courtesy Morphogenesis
The corporate headquarters of Apollo Tyres in Gurgaon, designed by New Delhi-based architectural firm Morphogenesis, is one of the earliest examples of an iconic modern office where environment-friendly features have been integrated into the building’s design and construction. Sonali Rastogi, co-director of Morphogenesis, shares the secrets of keeping Apollo green:
• The building is designed as a series of bands or “striations”, as the architects put it, and is not a long, solid, uniform shape, thus allowing the architects to manage the entry of light into the building. The striations ensure that all occupants of the building receive enough daylight to make artificial lighting unnecessary: No one is ever further than 7m from a window.
• Internal and external courtyards are used to maximize the use of natural light and keep the building cool, a traditional technique of building design interpreted in a modern setting.
• The walls have cavities to capture the heat, not releasing it into the building, another traditional technique to keep a building cool—resulting in a more efficient air-conditioning system. One tonne of air-conditioning capacity is usually needed to cool 150 sq. ft of floor space in a conventional office building. At the Apollo headquarters, that one tonne can cool 250 sq. ft.
• Terraced gardens also insulate the interiors: The soil and green cover retain moisture, absorb heat and help to keep the building cool.
•Modern materials have been used strategically to prevent the building from overheating. The “skin” of the building has two layers made of aluminium and glass. Where there is too much glare, the aluminium surface shades the glass surface, providing protection from the sun and keeping the glare out, but still allowing enough natural light into the building.
Also See The Energy-effecient Plan (PDF)
• The company invested in modern building management systems to link the use of services to actual human occupancy. Lights, ACs and voice and data networks are set in standby mode when the building is not occupied and are activated in various areas as people come in, depending on the number of occupants, thus minimizing power costs.
• All water in the building is recycled. Sewage water is treated and used for air-conditioning systems and horticulture. Rainwater is harvested.
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First Published: Tue, Apr 21 2009. 10 28 PM IST