Glazed spaces for a resource efficient, social and healthy living, Part 1. Inventory of geometries and functions by study visits and interviews


The main aim of the Spaces project is to support architects in the design of well-functioning glazed geometries, such as atria and rooftops, in residential buildings. The studied geometries are primarily spaces for communication and leisure in residential buildings. These spaces may have a varying indoor climate, which is governed by the construction of the building, as well as residents’ activities, rather than by building services. The project contributes with examples of geometries and usages, methods to evaluate the performance early in the design process and to provide guidance for architectural design and increased social interaction. The project also investigates obstacles that exist in current practice and Swedish legislation for glazed geometries. In this report, the first part of the project “Inventory of geometries and functions by study visits and interviews” is presented. Methods used in this first part is literature studies, interviews and case studies. The topics investigated are social and human aspects, technical aspects such as thermal comfort, energy, air quality, humidity, acoustics and to some extent urban farming. From the literature and by contacting architects and consultants in the building industry, eight case study buildings were found, located. The buildings were either housing cooperatives or rental buildings, and the glazed spaces in the buildings were either atria, glazed balconies or glazed rooftops. For the case studies, information was gathered from databases, through interviews and during study visits. The opinions of the residents were captured during structured interviews and through quantifiable surveys, and the results were analysed by the project group with input from the reference group. For social interaction, the investigations show that even with a developed design for social interaction (such as common areas, kindergarden, private areas in connection with glazed space), the interaction might fail. Social activities are highly dependent on individuals and thus, engaged persons are very valuable to obtain a social environment. In addition, a clear purpose of the space and a sense of ownership is beneficial to the social environment. In this study, the projects that worked well socially were the four housing cooperatives and one rental building. The three projects that worked less well were all rental. There are slightly different opinions of the optimal size to achieve social interaction. The architect of one of the projects that works well socially suggests a maximum of 60 persons (25-30 families) and at another socially successful building, there are 48 apartments. Two out of the three largest buildings (71 apartments and 126 apartments) did not function well socially. Daylight levels are usually considered good in the glazed spaces. However, there are darker areas, in particular under access balconies, and this also affects the daylight levels in the apartments. The air quality is usually perceived as good in the glazed spaces and the most common problem connected to air quality is a high level of moisture in the air, which can result in condensation on windows. For thermal comfort, the expected level of comfort is important for the experience of the space. If the space looks like it is indoor, the expectation is room temperature in wintertime and, consequently, people are disappointed if it’s much colder. Both studied rooftops have problems with high temperatures in summertime. The temperature in the glazed space depends to a large degree on shading and ventilation, but also on the thermal mass of the materials in the glazed space. This is further investigated in part 2 of the project (Wahlgren et al. 2021), where also evaluation tools and design guidelines are presented.

Toivo Säwén
Toivo Säwén
PhD Student

My research interests are bringing sustainability tools to architects for use in early design stages.