01.04.2010

Trains Boats and Planes

Make sure that all facets of design criteria are fully evaluated into your projects

by Tim Adams, FBDAV

Aerodynamic forms usually associated with nautical, automotive, and aeronautical design are often sensual and seductive. The attraction of incorporating them into building designs is very powerful. Computer aided design, which integrates with cutting, moulding and fabrication make complex 3-dimensional forms accessible today, where they were impossible using traditional trade skills.

The reasons that make fluid, flowing lines appropriate to objects that need to offer minimum resistance to wind or water may not translate effectively to building design. Aerofoil shapes, which cause lift on plane wings, certainly should be used advisedly on buildings.

Curved shapes which hold water due the physics of surface tension will have the potential to direct water back towards the building rather than shedding it clear with positive drip lines. Not only will water cause deterioration due to accumulation of moisture, but it will most likely carry dirt and grime across the lower façade elements.

Shapes which concentrate water flow down the face of a building may, when carefully considered, be used effectively to ensure that once collected, it is then shed clear of the building as in the case of gargoyles. If not, the concentrated flow will have greater propensity to disfigure, and degrade the façade finishes.

Dramatic architectural statements may become part of a signature aesthetic associated with innovative building designers. When considering the integration of these types of departure from tried and tested techniques, make sure that all facets of design criteria have been fully evaluated.

Top Photo:
Fascia without drip and angled soffit edge is causing degradation of paint finish and lining material.

Aerofoil canopy edge allows water to drain down soffit until reaching a drip mould
Aerofoil canopy edge allows water to drain down soffit until reaching a drip mould - Image: Tim Adams
Protruding mechanical vent housing makes a firm statement about involving building equipment into the building form, but has also caused a concentrated route for water to drain down the façade
Protruding mechanical vent housing makes a firm statement about involving building equipment into the building form, but has also caused a concentrated route for water to drain down the façade - Image: Tim Adams