Conference Future Envelope searches for Unobtainium

News - 29 April 2015 - Communication BK

On 18 June, The Future Envelope conference on building façades will undertake a quest for the perfect façade material this year: 'Unobtainium'. As the name suggests, this material is unobtainable, because it does not exist (yet) or cannot be produced. Nevertheless, there are innovations that come quite close. 

The façade of the future may look radically different from what we are used to now. Glass, for example, does not need to be at least 6 millimetres thick, as we are currently accustomed to. The glass of the future will be extremely thin - roughly half a millimetre thick - and will still be sturdy. This is a wonderful innovation, which will receive a great deal of attention at the ninth edition of The Future Envelope. The extremely thin glass will not be unbreakable and will only be insulating if used in layers. "Nevertheless, it may become a very important material for the built environment", says professor Ulrich Knaack, the organiser of the conference. "A material that can truly do everything is impossible to obtain: 'Unobtainium'. Depending on the requirements of the commissioning party, however, you could certainly satisfy many demands with such a material."

During four parallel sessions, experts will discuss innovative construction methods and materials, and will also pay attention to the execution aspects. For example, an adaptive façade can be constructed with glass if it is executed with innovative coatings. It is not inconceivable that, in the future, this glass will be incorporated in a façade construction built using recycled paper, argues 'paper expert' Samuel Schabel. His Danish colleague, Anne-Mette Manelius, thinks that innovative textures made from concrete will lead to new façade construction possibilities. The Korean architect Eulho Suh gives an indication of how the use of high-tech textiles may bring us one step closer to an 'unobtainium' façade.

The question of whether innovations can be used to create safe, watertight constructions determines whether those innovations can lead to a breakthrough in the field of façade construction. In addition, the innovations also have to be energy-efficient. Obviously, the price also plays a role. "Applying even thicker insulation and continuing to use materials in the current, extremely inefficient manner is a dead-end course", says Knaack. "We will inevitably progress towards active, reusable façades. Our conference will give an indication of what these façades will look like."


8.30 Registration
9.00 Opening speech | Ulrich Knaack / TU Delft, NL
9.15 Introduction | Bert Lieverse / VMRG, NL

9.30 – 11.00 Session 1 – Engineering Challenge
Stefan Goeddertz / Herzog & de Meuron, CH
Philippe Willareth / Dr. Lüchinger+Meyer Bauingenieure AG, CH
Thomas Henriksen / Waagner-Biro, AT

11.30 – 13.00 Session 2 – New Transparency
Albert Schenning / TU Eindhoven, NL
Paulo Cruz / University of Minho, PT
Jens Schneider / TU Darmstadt, DE

14.00 – 15.30 Session 3 – Future Materials
Samuel Schabel / TU Darmstadt, DE
Anne-Mette Manelius / Danish Technological Institute, DK
Holger Techen / Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences, DE

16.00 – 17.30 Session 4 – Demand through Design
Marcel Bilow / TU Delft, NL
Sacha Silvester / TU Delft, NL
Eulho Suh / SUH Architects, KR

17.30 - Discussion

Time: 18 June, 8.30 - 17.30
Place: Aula Building, TU Delft

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