The intricate metal façade of the new Q1 building in Essen, Germany is not just a feathery design element -- it also serves as a sophisticated sun shading system. Designed by JSWD Architetken, the open metal shell frames a multi-level panoramic window that spans the entire building. The unique brise soleil saves the company countless dollars that would otherwise be spent on energy and climate control.
The shading system is composed of approximately 400,000 metal “feathers”, which are anchored into 3,150 routered stainless steel moveable stalks, which move and breathe with the touch of a controller. The stainless steel louvres have several functions that transform the façade to allow more or less light into the building. The 1,280 motorized elements can be closed to create a more solid enclosure, follow the position of the sun, or be entirely open to allow maximum solar exposure.
The metal feather elements vary in shape from trapezoids to triangles and rectangles. Aside from the shading benefits, the different feather-like elements create a dazzling façade that sparkles like a fish’s scales when the sun catches them just right. The metal elements block of the harsh sun while keeping the interior cool, reducing the need for air conditioning and climate control. The 1,280 elements also can move independently, directing natural light into tight interior spaces, reducing the need for electric lighting. Q1’s glittering metal shell successfully combines cutting-edge architectural design with an innovative, sustainable and energy-efficient building system.