Technological innovation and architectural design represent an ever closer union in which the outer covering of buildings is seen as common ground for these two concepts. Nowhere is this more so than in the field of energy efficiency and over time the outer shells of buildings have been transformed into technological, dynamic and multifunctional elements capable of managing and controlling flows of energy and mass, storing and releasing energy and becoming sources of energy themselves, able to actually understand the concepts of heating, cooling and lighting.
Seen in this light, the outer shell or skin has discarded its traditional function of pure protection and has become a genuine interface through which the building receives and transmits information in a “smart” way. The skin has now become an intelligent exterior that knows how to protect and contain but also to express itself.
Materials such as reinforced concrete, steel and glass have contributed to the transformation of construction cladding and the architectural façade.
One of the trends identified in the research and development of cladding technologies recently highlighted by UNICMI deals with the growth of cladding and façade systems in terms of physical dimensions along with the development of increasingly smaller and thinner materials along with components that are moving in the direction of nano technologies. Moreover, increasing dimensions and heights require extremely high mechanical performance from façade components. Energy efficiency also demands an in-depth development of the interaction between systems and exterior shell while thermal efficiency itself is increasingly becoming more secure in use.