Michael Laar
Bibliographic info:
Building Simulation, 7, 2001, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, p. 1321-1328

Horizontal and vertical brises soleil are dominant elements in the modernist tropical architecture. It was the obvious answer to the question on how to adapt the modernist architecture, developed in moderate climates, to the tropical climate with its particularly high solar radiation. Buildings for example like, the buildings of the Central University of Venezuela in Caracas (Carlos R. Villanueva, 1945 – 1953) or the ministry of education and culture MEC (Lúcio Costa, Le Corbusier et al. 1943) [1] in Rio de Janeiro, make intensive use of these elements. With the widespread introduction of airconditioning systems and special glazing these typical elements of tropical modernist architecture vanished. Simultaneously the energy consumption of tropical buildings rose dramatically, due to the facades now widely unprotected from the high solar radiation. Using Radiance [2] instead of time and money consuming real measurements, the brise soleil system of the MEC in Rio de Janeiro was evaluated, simulating three different angles of the horizontal blinds, which are possible by the existing mechanism. The results were compared with today’s demand on lighting in office spaces. The idea was to prove the relevance of a relatively old technique, implemented in a world-wide famous milestone of modern architecture, for contemporaneous energy efficient architecture.