PHOTO BY Fernando Guerra, Leonardo Finotti
The intricately faceted façade of RB12 sets a new standard of sustainable design in Brazil. The newly revamped 1970s office tower is now the first commercial building in Brazil that uses photovoltaic panels for electricity production and fuel cells that transform gas from vehicles passing by into electricity. Nestled within the business and economic center of Rio Branco Avenue in Rio de Janeiro, the 26-storey narrow office block is easy to distinguish for its “bioclimatic façade”.
On the outside, zigzagging glass panels, louvers, and plant-filled balconies ornamented the building replacing gridded glass wall facing the street, but not merely to impress. Franco-Brazilian architecture firm Triptyque Architecture is the vision behind RB12, built for a French-based ecological construction company Natekko, that is now concentrating on sustainable luxury projects and innovative investment advisory firm that focuses on affordable housing and green-refurbishment MMC Investimentos.
Based in Sao Paulo and Paris, Triptyque Architecture is known for their contemporary and sustainable construction, making its mark from their Sao Paulo projects such as artist residence Harmonia_57, residential building Fidalga_727, office building Colombia_325,and their first the collaboration with Natekko for the headquarters of the French National Head Office for Industrial Property (INPI) in Courbevoie, France.
Following the global trend of green refurbishment, RB12 took a similar path, particularly to make over of the 1970s classic building to meet sustainable development criteria that aim to preserve the existing building while improving the energy performance and inhabitants’ quality of life. Among the criteria are the application of thermal comfort, managing water consumption, optimizing natural light system, and clean energy production through photovoltaic solar panels and fuel cells.
“The technical device set up for the first time, allows an optimal management of the water consumption, optimize the natural light and so offers an upper wellbeing to real estate buildings.” The bioclimatic façade, for example, is a set of zigzagging glass panels and louvers that aims to play with light like a diamond while reducing sun exposure. Vertically designed on the façade, the suspended landscaping by the balconies functions as a cooling system and thermal control of the interior areas.
But Triptyque said that the benefit is not only for the sake of environmentally friendly building. “All these architectural high-end technologies enable the reduction of energy consumption but also to increase savings for owners.” When asked about the challenges, the agency admits that when the project completed, RB12 technology was ahead of the Brazilian regulations, which currently prohibiting autonomous energy production apart from the solar panels. Meanwhile, the building already provides a way to transform gasses and fuel cells that transform gas from vehicles passing by into electricity, utilizing hydrogen cells to help the process, while the north-facing side walls use photovoltaic panels that directly converts the sun’s light into electricity and send any energy not used back to the grids. In an example of the firm’s forward thinking, the cells have been installed and will go into operation once the official approval process catches up.
Entering the building, the ground floor lobby up to the office floors managed to naturally separate the space into two sides using cranked plan. While natural ventilation is applied to improve the internal climate of the building. Walking to the patio, the plant-covered balconies are irrigated using rainwater harvesting system that is also used for bathrooms. The system is applied the same with their green-filled rooftop terrace, aids to the cooling and thermal control for the interior. While all technologies are meant to be an exemplar of sustainable design office building in Brazil, Triptyque said that RB12 concept is a state-of-the-art project. “It still very new in Brazil compares to Europe for instance, but yes, we can feel the main direction is to sustainability.”
2, Avenue Rio Branco, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
Gross Floor Area
Olivier Raffaëlli, Carolina Bueno, Greg Bousquet and Gui Sibaud
Electric and hydraulic installations
Chapman + BDSP
Si2 | Soluções Inteligentes Integradas
Brasil H2 Fuel Cell Energy
DPG Plan Groupe Artelia