Lightweight Dividing Walls: Adaptation to Temperate Climates

By Paulo Mendonca and Mónica Raquel Fernandes Macieira.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper intends to prove that it is possible to use lightweight membranes on interior partition walls and on external façades, even in housing buildings at temperate climate regions, if their properties are well explored. The few material used, even less than conventional lightweight solutions - the most common is plasterboard with light steel frame structure - allow a lower specific embodied energy and other more favourable environmental impact indicators. Compared to conventional heavyweight solutions, such as hollow brick walls, lightweight membranes allow easier deconstruction/reuse. In the outer skin, architectural membranes can be used as passive or active systems, for heating (promoting greenhouse effect) and cooling (shading or even evaporative cooling). Lightweight materials are more viable to be used on invariably hot or cold climates, than on temperate climates, as in this context they present problems related with its low thermal storage capacity. However, the research of new architectural membrane materials, with passive and active behavior for thermal regulation, allows extending its possibilities to interior dividing partitions in order to fulfill contemporary demands of comfort. Active and/or passive systems can be used to regulate thermal gains – for example by radiant panels and/or evaporative cooling, but also to achieve thermal inertia. In pavements, thermal storage lightweight elements, using natural Phase Change Materials, were already studied and reported on previous studies from the first author. Examples of how these systems can also be applied to lightweight membrane dividing walls are presented in this paper, and some experimental research is now under course on test cell facilities existing in University of Minho, Guimarães.

Keywords: Solar Passive/Active Systems Integration, Lightweight Dividing Walls, Composites

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp.11-26. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.232MB).

Prof. Arch. Paulo Mendonca

Assistant Professor, Architecture School, University of Minho, Guimaraes, Portugal

Studied Architecture at the University of Porto Faculty of Architecture (Portugal), and in 1993/1994 was Erasmus Grant in Barcelona at the Technical Superior School of Architecture (Spain), year in which concluded it’s Degree in Architecture. He was an FCT (Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology) grant student in the Textile Engineer Department of the University of Minho, where he obtained the “Design and Marketing” Master Degree defending a thesis about “Intelligent uses of Textiles in Architecture”. As a Grant Doctorate student of FCT he got an “Advanced Studies Diploma” on the Doctorate Course “Àmbits de Recerca en l’Energia i el Medi Ambient a l’Arquitectura” in Barcelona on the Technical Superior School of Architecture and in 2005 concluded the Doctor Degree in Civil Engineering by the University of Minho, with the thesis: “Living under a second skin: Strategies for the Environmental Impact Reduction of Solar Passive Constructions in Temperate Climates”, acclaimed by unanimity. He is the author of more then thirty scientific articles in several International Publications and Conferences. He is actually Assistant Professor of the Architecture Autonomous Department of the University of Minho, as well as MSc in Architecture Program Director since 2005/2006 till the present time.

Mónica Raquel Fernandes Macieira

University of Minho, Portugal

“Studied Architecture at the University of Minho School of Architecture(Portugal). Architect since 2008, involved in a research project about lightweight modular membrane dividing walls since 2010, as a researcher. Major interests are on sustainable construction, new materials and lighweight structures.


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