Daylight ducts for high-rise offices
June 15, 2022
In Asia, most office tower designs have highly glazed façades. Yet, the building occupants hardly get to enjoy the views outside, because the over-sized windows are exposed to excessive tropical solar heat and glare, so that the occupants have no choice but to engage manual blinds on a near-permanent basis. However, once the blinds are down, the office spaces become so dark that electric lighting needs to be switched on.
This is the tropical high-rise office design paradox: a highly glazed building that offers neither daylight nor views to its occupants.
A different and innovative approach was taken for the Mercu Mustapha Kamal high-rise office tower in Kuala Lumpur, for which we achieved daylight autonomy for the first 8 metres of the façade perimeter zone, despite the window blinds being down. This was accomplished by focusing our attention on the most overlooked and under-utilised space in office buildings: the suspended ceiling space.
Sun path and components
For office buildings, about one quarter of the space is hidden above the suspended ceiling, which typically is 1 metre high. This ceiling space is mostly needed to fit the big air-conditioning duct, whereas the other services such as light fixtures and sprinkler pipes do not need much space.
For the Mercu Mustapha Kamal building, we took advantage of the fact that the air-conditioning ducts gradually become smaller when they branch out from the central air-handling unit. By carefully planning out the ceiling services, it became possible to free up most of the suspended ceiling space along the façade perimeter.
Crucially, we made sure that the big central duct ran through the centre of the office, and that the smaller branch ducts ran perpendicular to the façade in the façade perimeter zone. The other ceiling services were also carefully coordinated. This allowed us to put daylight ducts with internal mirror reflective surfaces to harvest daylight through a row of 800-millimetre-tall clear glass façade panes placed above the suspended ceiling.
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Mercu Mustapha Kamal
Damansara Perdana, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia
Gross Floor Area
61,600 square metres
26 storeys; 37 storeys
Fairway Terrace Construction Sdn Bhd
Mechanical & Electrical Engineer
Norman Disney & Young Sdn Bhd
Civil & Structural Engineer
JPS Consulting Engineers Sdn Bhd
Gregers Reimann, IEN Consultants