The Perfect Wall; Applying Science to the Building Enclosure
In High Performance Building Enclosures, Dr. John Straube outlines the ‘ideal’ wall for the purpose of helping designers conceptualize how a building enclosure’s components should work together as a system. The sequence of layers represents a conceptual, climate-neutral approach with a scientific placement of the control layers that shows designers clearly how they interact and what functions each layer performs.
In the diagram, the cladding is on the outside, followed by the insulation, then the water, air, and vapor control layers, then the building structure and interior finishes. However, the perfect wall is a blueprint meant to remind designers of the total goals of a wall system; as such, they can use it to check systems that do not follow the configuration specified in the schematic:
The approach can also be applied to other areas of the building, such as the foundation and roof. Careful attention to the continuity of layers in the design phase, especially when interacting with control joints, windows, and mechanical penetrations, will help ensure that the system is airtight, and therefore capable of functioning as intended. Every designer must make sure that they provide all the critical control functions required for a contemporary building.
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