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Glare-free light – Sun shading as a functional design element

In times when we need to adapt our plans in order to save energy, reduce carbon emissions, use material resources with care and think about the future from an ecological, economical and societal point of view, sun shading has become an integral part of a building. The necessary functions depend on the time of day and year, the geographical location as well as the local weather and climatic conditions. You need to think along the same lines when designing sun shading, as the material and shape both define the external appearance of the building as well as the view from inside to outside.

The functions and requirements of sun shading are complex. Buildings need to be able to react to external influences in a targeted or locally limited way with minimal effort, and restrict the levels of light, air and heat entering the building. The choice of sun shading has an influence on the interior comfort levels and thereby has an effect on the comfort of the building users. Summer thermal insulation is a key topic here. This is not only necessary in order to prevent the building from overheating and thereby reduce the use of interior cooling systems, but also to provide protection and shade to adjacent open spaces such as balconies or terraces. Health aspects like UV protection likewise need to be considered. Sufficient distribution of daylight must be ensured in accordance with the fundamentals stipulated in VDI guideline VDI 6011 Part 1 (Optimisation of daylight use and artificial lighting). On the one hand, there must be optimum use of incident daylight in order to light the room, so that the use of artificial lighting can be reduced to save energy.

On the other hand, workstations must be protected from glare so as to avoid the risk of reducing the screen contrast. The spatial configuration of the interior rooms and the arrangement of work stations also influence the effect of sun shading. Light control systems help to make maximum use of daylight and distribute an equal amount of light, even with deep rooms. Ensuring views to the outside without changing the natural colours, for example with coloured glass, increases user acceptance. Furthermore, suitable measures provide screening and privacy.

When focusing on energy consumption, one thing holds true: the unwanted heat in summer helps to improve the energy balance in winter. Passive heat generation by drawing as much solar energy into the building as possible reduces heating loads and protects the building on cooler days from becoming too cold at night.

In addition to functional aspects, sun shading is also a key design element when choosing the design, position, material and colour. It makes a big difference on the visual impact if the system is inside, outside or integrated in the building envelope. The choice of design depends on the individual design decisions as well as structural and energy efficiency criteria. Projections and canopies are generally integrated in the construction. On the other hand, external systems such as louvre blades, folding shutters, roller shutters, awnings and internal units like Venetian blinds, curtains, textiles and systems integrated in the space between panes are all flexible in their use. The construction design and the building orientation also determine the effect here. While vertical louvre blades, for example, allow almost unimpeded views outside and horizontal louvre blades split the field of vision, the latter provide better shading in certain cases. Depending on the fabric chosen, textile sun shading provides transparency across the whole surface while providing a high level of sun shading. A lateral track guide integrated in the profile turns textile sun shading into a system that is highly weather and wind-resistant. Further innovations in the glazing, which use electrochromic technology to dynamically tint the glass pane, make additive sun shading completely unnecessary.

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