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 Interview with Veneta Novakova, R&D Director (ETEM Group)

/Source: Gradat Magazine/


Mrs. Novakova, we’re once again having a discussion over the facades, so what was exactly the feedback from the latest ETEM façade engineering conference, the upcoming version of which is due in 2017?

With the latest façade engineering conference, we laid eyes upon the complexity of facades which requires new approaches, fresh knowledge as well as design software. The parametric design was the center of attention in all lecturers’ presentations. It simply gave us a direction for the upcoming workshop and concept about the look of the ETEM’s stall on this year’s BAU exhibition in Munich. The positive feedback alongside all these grateful letters during and after the event assured us in two main things – firstly, our information is up-to-date, and secondly, this sure is the right way to go.

The conference was quick to transform itself from a corporative event into a targeted one gathering people from different spheres of interests in this branch. Besides, the more people are interested in us, the bigger the responsibility when it comes to the choice of lecturers and content for the upcoming conferences.


When it comes to the façade engineering, what do you make of the progress of awareness in the specialized investor community?

We’re witnessing an obvious progress; and apparently, our efforts and those of our colleagues, of course, bear fruit. More often than not, the investors have the final word on whether there should be an individual façade project. Undoubtedly, they’ve arrived at the conclusion that the scarcity of such projects, combined with the inappropriate choice of materials in the very outset and their inadequate attachment, results in a serious multiplication and unplanned expenses until reaching the final stage of the project. The advanced façade engineering as a considerably new Bulgarian discipline, required the launching of the Façade Engineering Association the main purpose of which is to bring the experts in this field together, help such companies catch the eye, and stand up for their interests. From another viewpoint: it strives for improving those employees’ qualifications developing in this field, incorporating the façade engineering as a segment of the investment project as it contributes to a more productive regulatory system.

The Façade Engineering Association will be tied with academic and educational institutions, branch, parliamentary and non-parliamentary organizations.


How does the comfort of dwellers can benefit from the better integration of facades functionalities?

The latest trend addresses surpassing the established comfort level by incorporating concepts of repose, tranquility, comfort, coziness as well as delight at home and at the office until achieving welfare. The “well-being” concept overtops the physiological comfort through improving the life standards in all possible aspects, such as spiritual, social and healthy ones.

The integration of various functionalities in facades improves the inhabitants’ comfort in the building by monitoring and maintaining the optimal temperature levels, the impact of harmful noises, as it tries to reach an acoustically comfortable environment by letting the needed daylight in and ensuring a feeling of seclusion.


What’s the connection between the segments of the buildings and those of the facades? How is the ideal approach created?

The innovations in the façade engineering require shifting the focus onto the façade installations, such as sun protection, passive and active ventilation, cooling and heating systems, renewable energy sources emitting energy elements, etc.

The foundation of a building is dependent on the façade since it lays the basis for its attachment later on. With that, however, the interrelation between these two doesn’t get exhausted. Rather, such details like the space between the foundation and façade of the building are considered the most critical ones for a better functionality as it provides options for separating the internal and external spaces set between the premises and the floors.

These details alongside the comfort of the acoustic environment and the non-proliferation of fire and smoke are of high significance as well. What’s even harder is putting this idealistic approach into action since it takes broader knowledge of materials, process and technologies plus the relation each one has with the others while considering the context of the building and its proportions.


How can we measure the impact of the parametric modeling in our country?

As we’ve just mentioned, we have complied with the latest trends in architectural modeling. Besides, with the support of the producer of the composite material etalbond®, ELVAL COLOUR, ETEM managed to offer a hand to the international Design Morphine workshop back in 2016 which focused on parametric design and prototyping strategies aka Intelligent Tectonics V1.0.

As for the workshop, it was based on the practical use of calculating design methods for realistic architectural projects. The sponsors walked the participants through the different aspects of parametric modeling starting from the very initial phase and going through planning, productivity and setting-up.

Held at the workforce, this course burdened the participants with the task of creating altogether an exhibition stand for ETEM and Elval Colour using the basics of parametric modeling. The project that eventually won the competition on this year’s BAU exhibition in Munich was the Prospective System pavilion standing behind the concept of putting up a stand for ETEM and Elval Colour. It’s exactly ETEM’s desire that propelled the development of the parametric look of the pavilion as it also opened an opportunity for students and architects to display their individual parametric mind through latest digital tools for modeling and design.

When ETEM”s BAU exhibition stand became a fact, we got the wheels turning on another project with an architectural bureau for a parametric façade featuring an "etalbond" composite material the partnership of which was quite a pleasure for our team.

From the look of things and after all the good feedback regarding the pavilion’s final look, we can definitely claim that the parametric design as a powerful trend worldwide is slowly but surely entering our worlds.


What are your thoughts on the educational system in Bulgaria and façade engineering programs in terms of availability, opportunities, realization and interest?

As a lecturer on façade engineering, what I certainly see is a progress in the educational system regarding this discipline. As pioneers in this field we can definitely point at the Higher School of Construction “Lyuben Karavelov”, Sofia especially after incorporating the façade engineering specialty as a part of the Master's Program "Technology and Construction Management", which, by the way, won’t be shut down this year. What’s more, we’re looking forward to the opening of the complete Façade engineering master’s program that is due by the following year.

Besides, another façade engineering discipline from the master’s program named Energy Efficiency in Construction was opened at the University of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geodesy in Sofia earlier this year.


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