Double skin facades can work in hot and cool climates

Some of the most incredible examples of commercial architecture look like they have an entire wall of glass. It can be a really attractive design element, but also offers a number of quality of life benefits too. This includes better views and more natural ventilation. In some cases the design is actually a double skin facade, with two layers of glass. Famous examples of it include the Gherkin in London and the Basque Health Department in Bilbao.

Considering the climate

Commercial architectureWhen you design a building, you need to think about the climate. If you don’t, you may find that the interior is excessively hot or extremely cold. This can cause big problems for the users.

Impressively, you can benefit from double skin facades in both hot and cool climates. With the right design it can provide cooling and extra insulation against external conditions. This can enhance your commercial architecture.


A double skin facade will have an exterior wall of glass as the outer shell of the building. There will then be a cavity of open air. It can vary in size, from a few dozen centimetres to several metres depending on the design. There will then be a second facade.

This cavity will work wonders for insulating the building. It means that hot or cold conditions outside won’t leech directly into inhabitable spaces. On top of that, in colder locations heat from inside the building won’t escape. In turn it will massively improve the thermal efficiency of the property.


In hot climates, interiors in commercial architecture can become very uncomfortable if they lack sufficient ventilation. Luckily, double skin facades can promote this. You can design one to ventilate hot air at the top of the building while allowing cold air to flow in from the base. This is known as the chimney effect and takes advantage of the fact that hot air is less dense and rises. It can travel up the cavity to be released while cool air flows in below to replace it. This can also create a nice cooling breeze in the property.

The most important thing here is to design with the exterior conditions in mind. You can then decide on whether you are trying to trap warm air inside to counter cold external temperatures or want to quickly release hot air to bring in cool.

A good double skin facade can dramatically improve the conditions in a property. Simultaneously, it can reduce heating and cooling costs. It can even enhance noise insulation and acoustics.

Design your commercial architecture to suit the setting

Coffey Architects understands the challenges with every kind of commercial building. It could be a small boutique, a massive shopping centre, a tiny office, or a huge skyscraper. Ultimately the aim should be to have a great design and settings that benefit the end users. We can achieve both for you.

So, if you are thinking about commercial architecture, we would love to hear from you. Feel free to ask us about any aspect, from double skin facades to roofing options and even things like landscaping.