The history of Double Skin Facades is described in several books, reports and articles. Saelens, (2002) mentions that” in 1849, Jean-Baptiste Jobard, at that time director of the industrial Museum in Brussels, described an early version of a mechanically ventilated multiple skin facade. He mentions how in winter hot air should be circulated between two glazings, while in summer it should be cold air”.
Crespo, claims that, the first instance of a Double Skin Curtain Wall appears
in 1903 in the Steiff Factory in Giengen, Germany. According to her, the priorities were to maximize daylighting while taking into account the cold weather and the strong winds of the region. The solution was a three storey structure with a ground floor for storage space and two upper floors used for work areas. The building was a success and two additions were built in 1904 and 1908 with the same Double Skin system, but using timber instead of steel in the structure for budget reasons. All buildings are still in use.
In 1903 Otto Wagner won the competition for the Post Office Savings Bank in Vienna in Austria. The building, built in two phases from 1904 to 1912 has a double skin skylight in the main hall. At the end of the 1920’s double skins were being developed with other priorities in mind. Two cases can be clearly identified. In Russia, Moisei Ginzburg experimented with double skin stripes in the communal housing blocks of his Narkomfin building (1928). Also Le Corbusieur was designing the Centrosoyus, also in Moschow. A year later he would start the design for the Cite de Refuge (1929) and the Immeuble Clarte (1930) in Paris.
Little or no progress is made in double skin glass construction until the late 70’s, early 80’s. During 80’s this type of facades they started gaining momentum. Most of these facades are designed using environmental
concerns as an argument, like the offices of Leslie and Godwin. In other
cases the esthetic effect of the multiple layers of glass is the principal concern.
In the 90’s two factors strongly influence the proliferation of double skin facades. The increasing environmental concerns start influencing architectural design both from a technical standpoint but also as a political influence that makes “green buildings” a good image for corporate architecture.
[Harris Poirazis: Double Skin Façades for Office Buildings – Literature Review. Division of Energy and Building Design, Department of Construction and Architecture, Lund Institute of Technology, Lund University, 2004. Report EBD-R--04/3]