ruminations about architecture and design

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

the perfect wall

This is a section drawing of the "perfect wall" which Joe Lstiburek of the Building Science Company has written about extensively. It combines the most important principles of building envelope management into one simple package. It leaves out the window, but we'll talk about that some other day.
The perfect wall refutes some intuitive thinking about building design--namely that the outermost surface should be the primary water barrier. By admitting that the outermost layer is an imperfect seal and moving the waterproofing to a more protected area inside the wall the whole assembly can function better. I'm still trying to wrap my head around this, but it's tough to argue with the empiricism or the theories. Stuff gets wet and it has to dry out and if you don't design and build with that in mind, then unhappiness results.
The perfect wall can be expensive to build, but building is always expensive, and if it saves on operating costs, then it's a good idea.

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