A Brief History of Brise Soleil

Architects have long been asked the question – how do you design a building that looks attractive and provides a comfortable environment on the inside? This is where brise soleil comes in.

The Brise Soleil

Often referred to as a sun baffle, you might know it as a sun shade but that’s essentially what brise soleil is all about. When you have a building that receives too much direct sunlight, it can overheat the interior, making it uncomfortable and stuffy for those who must spend time inside. A clever way to reduce the temperature and save money on cooling, many architects include brise soleil in the exterior structure design to solve these issues.

It means ‘sun breaker’ in French and can be used to cover whole sides of buildings, openings or windows. They effectively limit or reflect the amount of direct sunlight entering the building and can be designed to look amazing too. For Brise Soleil for your building, visit https://alusystems.uk

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In History

The concept is not a new one as humans have long had the need to get out of the heat of the sun whilst balancing the need for adequate indoor lighting. An ancient example is the Colosseum in Rome, which had awnings that spread out over seating to provide shade from the hot sun.

Another historic example of brise soleil use is found in Hindu architecture. Architects of the past developed screens that were pierced, known as jalis and these were placed over windows. They were able to filter sunlight to provide enough interior lighting, while still keeping the room as cool as possible. An added bonus was that the patterns pierced into the screens created impressive shadows and patterns across the walls and floors of the rooms where they were hung.

Methods similar to this were used by the Japanese as well. Sudare were used, which were reed or split-bamboo screens which were hung from the eaves of houses. The sudare were not unlike the blinds we use today and could be rolled up when not required and then unrolled when the sun became too much.

Brise Soleil of today

The need for shade has never gone away but have been re-designed to become an integral part of modern architectural design. One of the defining moments for the modern use of brise soleil was the work of Le Corbusier. The Swiss-French architect was incredibly influential during 20th century design and was one of the leading proponents of studying the effects of the sun and sunlight on modern buildings. He used brise soleil to great effect when working in tropical climates where the need for interior cool was paramount.

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The Gustavo Capanema Palace in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is an example of one of his first uses of brise soleil. Le Corbusier designed the structure in around 1936 and it is still considered to be one of the greatest modernist designs in the Americas. The brise soleil fins were installed in a grid-like frame with adjustable panels to allow occupants to take control of their environment throughout the seasons.

 

 

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