Brise soleil

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A basic brise soleil at the Charles Wells Brewery for Wells & Co. This photo was taken of the south facing elevation at noon in December, a little before the Winter Solstice. Note how all the windows are in the shade.

Brise soleil, sometimes brise-soleil (French: [bʁiz sɔlɛj]; lit.'"sun breaker"'), is an architectural feature of a building that reduces heat gain within that building by deflecting sunlight.[1] The system allows low-level sun to enter a building in the mornings, evenings and during winter but cuts out direct light during summer.[2]


Brise-soleil can comprise a variety of permanent sun-shading structures, ranging from the simple patterned concrete walls popularized by Le Corbusier in the Palace of Assembly[3] to the elaborate wing-like mechanism devised by Santiago Calatrava for the Milwaukee Art Museum[4] or the mechanical, pattern-creating devices of the Institut du Monde Arabe by Jean Nouvel.[5]

In the typical form, a horizontal projection extends from the sunside facade of a building. This is most commonly used to prevent facades with a large amount of glass from overheating during the summer. Often louvers are incorporated into the shade to prevent the high-angle summer sun falling on the facade, but also to allow the low-angle winter sun to provide some passive solar heating.[6]


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  1. ^ Borden, Gail Peter; Meredith, Michael, eds. (2012). Matter: Material Processes in Architectural Production. Routledge. p. 330.
  2. ^ "Brise Soleil". Two Point Seven Facades. 1 (1). 2019. Retrieved 11 July 2020.
  3. ^ "AD Classics: Palace of the Assembly / Le Corbusier". ArchDaily. 2011-08-10. Retrieved 2023-02-13.
  4. ^ Museum, Milwaukee Art. "Burke Brise Soleil | Milwaukee Art Museum". Retrieved 2023-02-13.
  5. ^ "AD Classics: Institut du Monde Arabe / Enrique Jan + Jean Nouvel + Architecture-Studio". ArchDaily. 2011-10-02. Retrieved 2023-02-13.
  6. ^ Tolson, Simon (2014). Dictionary of Construction Terms. CRC Press. p. 40. ISBN 9781317912354.

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