How do we turn the indoor space into an outdoor space? If it stands for Jeroen Troost van Schöck, it is an apparent contradiction that is not as impossible as it seems. He argues for the central area where residents can enjoy the outdoor life that people want today, while that area can be thermally closed on cold days. Moreover, this is technically possible.
Long ago, Eberhard Schöck, the founder of Schöck, discovered the existence of the thermal bridge: a break in the insulation layer in the outer shell of the building, resulting in heat loss. Now, years later, the company specializes in high-quality connections of balconies, facades, roofs and more, which also tackle aspects such as sound and fire. The health of the user is always central here. Nevertheless, Jeroen Troost, managing director of Schöck Holland & Norden (pictured below), can see that the importance of this theme ‘goes in waves’. “Buildings and interior spaces are getting smaller, there is more stacked construction in the city center and the need for gardens is increasing,” he says. “The quality of the residential environment therefore becomes important.”
Balcony = healthy
Troost sees that the health trend in the construction sector is mainly degenerating into a desire for outdoor spaces. Until recently, balconies were the way to bring that outdoor space into the city, where people usually don’t have their own garden, but according to Troost, this element is ‘ready for a new phase’. “People want to live outside, just look at all the outdoor kitchens and cabinets in hardware stores,” says Troost. “It is not possible for townhouses in the inner city, so create a lot of balcony space or hybrid indoor and outdoor spaces that can be closed off. Then you have a solid inner core, and everything around it is considered outdoor space.” This is in contrast to the current construction method, where buildings are almost completely sealed off with a thermal shell.
Doesn’t all the different access points through a mix of indoor and outdoor spaces make Schöck’s job more difficult? Because ‘anything that can be easily opened and closed is more difficult to close thermally’, as Troost himself says. “It’s a technical task,” he replies, “and we can handle it just fine.” He is not worried because what the target audience wants is more important. “This is in line with an unintended side effect of corona: People experienced the balcony as healthy because it was the only place where you could still go outside.” In other words: the balcony is simply an unavoidable element because the residents ask for it.
However, we can go one step further, Troost believes. “According to the building order, a house’s square meters only count within the thermal shield, while you actually have three areas: inside, outside and the central area,” he says. “The central area is a semi-transparent system where the quality of life is fantastic, we read in interviews with potential residents. It can be a living room where you can spend three hundred days a year, and if it gets too cold, you close it.”
Herein lies the challenge, because the addition of a central area practically means that the thermal bridge is moved inwards. “That’s why you have to accept that the central area has a different quality: something that people want, but which doesn’t yet fit well with the rules.” Here, too, the following applies: from a technical point of view, nothing is impossible, says Troost.
The resident decides
Still, the above is easier said than done, says Troost, because a good thermal seal is currently not included in the assessment of a building’s quality. “If, for example, you close a building completely according to the standards and laws and then just hang a balcony from it, the cold tends to penetrate the steel and concrete. If the thermostat then says that it is within 22 degrees, this can differ significantly when the balcony plate is connected. Then you still get condensation, drafts and mold without noticing.”
WELL standards pay attention to this aspect. For example, Troost hopes it will attract more attention. “If such standards come into play more, more consideration will be given to a healthy indoor climate. For example, we are selected for delivery speed, reliability, price and insulation values, but never for thermal bridges. Fortunately, in addition to sustainability and circularity, you see more and more questions about moisture in permit criteria.”
Read the whole story in our new digital magazine Health
Text: Reinoud Schaatsbergen
Image: Design by BiUM, PAES Architecture and Schöck
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