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A sustainable canopy keeps school cool and quiet

Features | September 1, 2019 | By:

By Bruce N. Wright, AIA 

The Tanmei Elementary School in Taiwan’s Neihu district is a fashionable, eco-friendly campus with the demeanor of a tranquil college quad. Unfortunately, its location is close to one of the busiest streets of Neihu, a fast-growing district of Taipei City, and the source of noise that disrupts the school’s learning environment. 

Since the early 2000s, Taipei City and Neihu have seen huge commercial and cultural development, as well as the growth of educational institutions including the National Taiwan College of Performing Arts and Takming University of Science and Technology.

H.P. Chueh Architects & Planners were charged with mitigating this sound challenge, designing a diagonal lattice-framed canopy that caps an active open-air atrium of a four-story teaching building. Taking inspiration from a traditional Taiwanese farmhouse trellis laced with vines, the architects echo the campus architecture elegance with this framed shell structure supported on steel columns that mimic trees with its splayed branches.

The 538-square-meter canopy grid is in-filled with 87 panels of alternating ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) (clear) and polytetra fluoroethylene (PTFE) (translucent) membranes that echo the leaves of a vine-covered farm trellis. Each panel is a different size, the average being 6 square meters. Together the clear and translucent membranes contribute significantly to the school’s sustainability by reducing heat loads and supporting plant life.

This project was an Outstanding Achievement winner in IFAI’s 2018 International Achievement Awards competition.

Architect: H.P. Chueh Architects & Planners
Design/installation/project management: Fabric Design & Engineering Co. Ltd.
Engineering and fabrication: Covertex Membranes (Shanghai) Co. Ltd.
Fabric: Sky Top FGT-800 from Chukoh Chemical Industries Ltd.; ETFE from Asahi Kasei Fibers Corp.

Bruce N. Wright, AIA, is an architect, teacher, consultant to architects and designers, and a frequent contributor to IFAI publications.

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