Building design has no doubt changed a lot over the years. As new materials and engineering techniques come to the fore, different opportunities present themselves to architects and designers. One of the most interesting developments over recent times has been the emergence of smart glass. This hi-tech resource allows people to use sections of glazing in far more versatile ways than before.
The material turns from opaque to transparent when an electrical current is passed through it. This causes the liquid crystal molecules in the glass to line up, allowing light to pass through. Once the current is removed, the glass becomes opaque again.
Architects and designers may benefit from considering switchable glass and other innovative solutions in their designs more, it has been suggested. According to the architect Francis Gichuhi, these experts should embrace new solutions.
Writing in the Star, he said: “Judging by the swift changes in design of phones and computers, I have conviction that designers of buildings should take cue. Architects have some lessons they can derive from this, lest they are caught in a time warp.”
He added: “The current building and construction technology in use in the country is quite rigid. For instance, once a house is built, it is not easy to change the room, door or window sizes, as well as the roof shape, among other features. In coming years, architects will have to design buildings that give occupiers more options, most of which will be customised. A basic lesson from the mobile phones and computers market shows that if you don’t adapt, you get decimated, even extinct.”
Talking about electric glass specifically, he commented: “With the advent of the smart glass technology, it is now possible for users to change the transparency or translucency of glass just with the touch of a button. This option can be included in smart house design.”
As well as such glazing solutions, Mr Gichuhi advocated the use of smart technology in roof designs. He noted that it is now possible for architects to create angled roofs that, at the touch of a button, can switch into flat positions. These spaces can then be used as balconies.
In addition, retractable surfaces can be used to cover swimming pools so that the areas can be solid ground when users require this, he noted.
The expert also pointed to the use of partitioning in rooms. Walls can fold into cabinets to create extra space, he suggested, while furniture can be retracted into walls when needed.
Summing up his thoughts, Mr Gichuhi said: “The more adaptability features the future smart house will have the more demand there will be for this calibre of architectural services.”
Some of the technology the specialist highlighted may take a while to filter into mainstream use. However, smart glass is already proving a hit in both domestic and commercial spaces. It is simple to fit and to use and its applications are many and varied. By heading online, people can peruse the options open to them.
About the Author – Anna Longdin is a freelance blogger who contributes regularly to a number of manufacturing websites, including Dream Glass Group.