The Princeton Envelope Group (PEG) is a design and research unit at the Princeton University School of Architecture. Headed by Alejandro Zaera-Polo and coordinated by Urtzi Grau. The unit is engaged in a three year research program on the Politics of the Building Envelope the conclusions of which will be published in a forthcoming book by Actar Press, Barcelona+New York.

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Flat Horizontal Mechanical System

The Flat Horizontal is a victim of its own success. In order to accomodate a wide range of events, it depends heavily on systems of mechanical control.
Today over half of the building’s annual operating costs are committed to heating and cooling alone.
1/3 of construction costs are committed to temperature and air handling systems.

Maximized Solar Exposure Diagram

Floor Area = Roof Area
Maximizing the Flat Horizontal roof’s solar potential.

Thermal Exchange Diagram

Site Area > Floor Area
With its expanded site infrastructure (parking, playing fields, fallow land) the Flat Horizontal can use the potential energy contained in its site to supply heating and cooling to the building interior.

Thermal Exchange section Diagram

Site Area > Floor Area
The site provides a large thermal sink but a relatively low temperature differential. This lends it more to a radiant (surface based) system than to a typical forced air method of heating and cooling.

Thermal Exchange Diagram: Ceiling, Wall and Floor Systems

Roof Area >> Wall Area
A radiant system is most effective across the horizontal plane. In order to minimize obstructions and maximize exposure, heating and cooling capacity is spread throughout the ceiling of the building.

Radiant Surfaces Diagram

Spreading the radiant system throughout the ceiling of the building puts a particular emphasis on the relationship between ceiling and program area. By maximizing the exposed surface of the ceiling and minimizing the radiant surface of the wall, this system informs architectural organization.

Maximized Solar Exposure

Floor Area = Roof Area
Roof Area >> Wall Area
The expansive roof plane is inevitably exposed to solar energy. In the current political climate, this translates into access to a wealth of subsidies for electrical production.

Availability of Overhead Light

Floor Area=Roof Area
The single story condition of the Flat Horizontal allows its entire floor area to be lit by sunlight during daytime hours, relieving pressure on electrical lighting systems.