The built environment is one of the highest energy consumers in the world. South Africa has only recently started forcing designers of the built environment to implement sustainable measures, in order to use less energy according to the SANS 10400 and SANS 204 Building regulations.
Francois Marais Architects has used the following construction design criteria to decrease the use of energy in the new Cruises International building and introduced passive solar design principals to enhance the energy efficiency of the building.
Francois kept these passive considerations in mind in the conceptual stage of the design and considered the orientation, the view and also the visibility of the new Cruises International building. The building has achieved an exceptionally high ‘green’ building grading and with the help of specialists in the field of energy efficiency, have been able to take the building off the electrical grid. This required careful planning with regards to the use of power and special consideration to certain aspects of the design, planning and construction of the building.
The site has prominent highway exposure on the North Western site boundary, however this poses particular challenges in terms of sun control. The Western sun in the late afternoon presents a heating and light problem, which was addressed with long narrow vertical windows and few window openings. Further to this the entire building was plastered externally with a plaster compound that thermally insulates the building resulting in an insulated envelope with a very consistent temperature during winter and summer periods.
The building is cooled during the summer with an evaporative cooler system, careful planning considerations had to be given to determine airflow and cooling in triple volumes and offices. The building is heated in the winter with a heat exchanger that heats water for under floor water heating, eliminating the need for electrical under floor heating. All of these technologies are driven with a solar photovoltaic system with a battery back up and building management system. A dedicated server room manages all these technologies.
The distinguishing feature and central area of the building represents the bow of a cruise ship. The prominent glass features creates a large volume that forms a triple volume entrance feature with a delicate curved stair that hugs the wall. The glass surfaces here needed special thermal low emission glass to insulate the building by not allowing the heat to escape in Winter and to reflect the heat out of the building and keep the interior spaces cooler in Summer. Due to the shape, the curved glass feature has the added effect of breaking the noise of the freeway in the director’s office, located on the freeway side. Another aspect of thermal design is a large water feature that was introduced in the front of the building. This allows the air flowing over the water to be cooled before entering the building at ground level and aids in regulating the temperature of the building in Summer.
Francois Marais Architects took great pride in designing a responsive building for Cruises International and were able to reflect the clients need and unique field of expertise visually and functionally as well as responding to green design regulations. The building incorporates the latest in affordable green design technologies, creating a space that is not only functional but also comfortable for the users.