Secondary skin concept (tropical house concept)

https://i1.wp.com/bopswave.googlepages.com/indonesiaflag.jpg Bahasa Indonesia

19 July 2008

Imagine a bright tropical house, that is comfortable with shade. Shading device like louvers is often used as secondary skin. Secondary skin concept for tropical houses has become popular lately. This concept blends with modern architecture concept by complementing a considerable solution to deal with tropical climate, which also has an aesthetic value.


What is secondary skin concept

rumah modern minimalis secondary skin
Design by astudio

You might have read or know from TV shows about ‘secondary skin concept’ or second wall layer of a building. This concept is originated from an analogy; house as a human skin.

Biologically, human has skin, to protect human from many danger, virus, disease, and other thread outside human body. Skin has a function to manage relationship between body and outside body. For example, if it is too hot, human skin will react by keeping temperature stable, for example sweat.

Human also has a way to react to external condition for example, by using clothes. There are clothes for hot weather, cold weather, etc. Clothes can be made to fit our comfort.

In architecture, it is Known the concept Of building as human skin, that has a function to protect human body. Building can be designed, to fit tropical climate, from heat and rain, and from other climate related environmental condition.

‘Secondary skin concept was derived from analogy of human skin and clothes, and this concept can be used whenever one layer of building ‘skin’ is not quite enough to deal with climate impact.


rumah modern minimalis secondary skin
Sketch by Probo Hindarto


In the above sketch that I made, I describe one concept of secondary skin. Human inside a room is isolated by Wall and glass. Wood louvers act as ‘secondary skin’ to hold direct heat from the sun to directly enter the room. So in this example, heat will not directly enter the glass wall.

rumah modern minimalis secondary skin
Photo by Samoke (Eko Wahyu, SAMM). House design by Ridwan Kamil
The house is using thousands of bottles for secondary skin.

To apply secondary skin at home

To apply secondary skin concept it is important not to be mistaken with creating building ornaments, because usually, house facade will look more aesthetic than using just a Single wall.

Many and more tropical houses use secondary skin concept. this is because tropical houses need more advanced concept than just a single wall concept. to apply secondary Skin concept for Your home consider these points;

When designing, observe the surrounding houses. are they comfortable enough? In term of air freshness. humidity, etc. If you feel that it is not really fresh and comfortable, consider to use secondary skin for your future home.

If your house is already been built, see if there is a possibility that you could better the level of air and natural light comfort by adding secondary skin.

In houses of tropical area, most secondary skin for buildings are made of wood louvers, steel, or other materials. One unique example is one house that was designed by Ridwan Kamil using bottles as secondary Skin. Other materials like bamboo, recycled material, glass, etc can be used innovatively

Level of human comfort in tropical area is quite specific. Some consider rather dark room is comfortable. How much natural light can get in to a room is one of main considerations beside air flow, humidity etc. Nowadays, glass material ate often being used. the impact is higher temperature level.

The use of secondary skin is quite similar to being below the shadow of a tree. You can imagine that being under the shadow of trees when the sun shine very hot is very comfortable.


(Probo Hindarto)

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by Probo Hindarto
© Copyright 2008 astudio Indonesia. All rights reserved.

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