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Wienerberger Building Material Solutions

Use of Copper on Façades to Reduce COVID Spread

By: Niket Sunil Upase

Defining Façade and Fenestration

Façade – In architecture, the façade of a building is often the most important aspect from a design standpoint, as it sets the tone for the rest of the building. From the engineering perspective of a building, the façade is also of great importance due to its impact on energy efficiency.

Fenestration – The term is still used to describe the arrangement of windows within a façade, as well as defenestration, meaning to throw something out of a window. Here are some notable facts and study regarding COVID on its spread in reference to façade materials, climate and us.

How Does Covid-19 Spread?

Table: Median Half-Life on Surfaces
Table: Median Half-Life on Surfaces

COVID-19 spreads mainly by droplets produced as a result of coughing or sneezing of a COVID-19 infected person. This can happen in two ways:

Direct close contact: One can get the infection by being in close contact with COVID-19 patients (within one metre of the infected person), especially if they do not cover their face when coughing or sneezing.

Indirect contact: The droplets survive on surfaces and clothes for many hours. Therefore, touching any such infected surface or cloth and then touching one’s mouth, nose or eyes can transmit the disease. This also means that virus is not an airborne transmitted.

Can The Coronavirus Survive On Surfaces?

Copper door
Copper door

It is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but it seems likely to behave like other coronaviruses. A recent review of the survival of human coronaviruses on surfaces found large variability, ranging from 2 hours to 9 days.

The survival time depends on a number of factors, including the type of surface, temperature, relative humidity and specific strain of the virus.

However, the two viruses differed in staying power on copper and cardboard. No viable SARS-CoV-2 was detectable on copper after 4 hours or on cardboard after 24 hours. In contrast, SARS-CoV-1 was not viable beyond 8 hours for either copper or cardboard.

Could You Become Infected From Just A Single Particle Of Coronavirus?

Tiled Perforated copper panels used for light to enter the interiors (Royal Holloway, University of London - Copper Recess Fixed Cassettes on BENCHMARK Karrier system during installation) Tiled Perforated copper panels used for light to enter the interiors (Royal Holloway, University of London – Copper Recess Fixed Cassettes on BENCHMARK Karrier system during installation)

An openable window of glass with the copper cladding tile on left of the façade to match the exterior glass glazing tile grid forms a unique combination of copper and glass
An openable window of glass with the copper cladding tile on left of the façade to match the exterior glass glazing tile grid forms a unique combination of copper and glass

There is a certain amount of viral particle that you need to be exposed to become infected. If you just had one viral particle on your finger, it is unlikely that you are going to be infected.

Some viruses are very potent, you only need like 10 particles to get infected, while others you [may] need millions. The fewer viral particles you are exposed to, the less likely you’re going to get infected. That is why the amount of virus on a surface is important.

Can The Coronavirus Disease Be Transmitted In Hot OR Humid Climates?

From the evidence so far, the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in ALL AREAS, including areas with hot and humid weather. Regardless of climate, adopt protective measures if you live in, or travel to an area reporting COVID-19.

The best way to protect yourself against COVID-19 is by frequently cleaning your hands. By doing this you eliminate viruses that may be on your hands and avoid infection that could occur by then touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.

Façade & Fenestration Material That Can Be Used Highly Is Copper

  • A copper cladding on exterior surface (www.axolotl.com.au/)
    A copper cladding on exterior surface (www.axolotl.com.au/)

    Evidence also suggests that the virus does not survive long on copper, as copper ions kill the microbes landing on the surface. The ions prevent cell respiration, disrupt the viral coat and destroy the genetic material inside. This latter property is important as it means that no mutation can prevent the microbe from developing resistance to copper.

  • Zinc oxide is a well explored antiviral material, known to inhibit viral activity, including that of H1N1 influenza. “However, little has been explored in coating these materials on existing packaging systems,” To use this low-cost material, the researchers should explore the possibility of making robust thin film coatings on various packaging materials,

In the image below, we see the exteriors skin is of copper and supported by the inside curtain wall, which forms a double layer of façade and arrest the virus on the first skin for 3 hours only, while the interior environment quality is unaffected, until and unless any person carries its systems and enters into the building. A Jali – which resembles like a fabric wrapped around the exterior envelope, façade and fenestration merging with each other.

The air passing through the copper fenestrations - Union Station, Toronto, architect : +VG Architect The air passing through the copper fenestrations – Union Station, Toronto, architect : +VG Architect

Some Of The Highlights On The Copper To Use For Façade And Fenestration

A spiral staircase with copper cladding, copper can be used for cladding in the interiors too (Science Center, Hellerup, Denmark; Architects: CEBRA)
A spiral staircase with copper cladding, copper can be used for cladding in the interiors too (Science Center, Hellerup, Denmark; Architects: CEBRA)

Durability/long-life: Copper roofs are extremely durable in most environments. They have performed well for over 700 years, primarily because of the protective patina that forms on copper surfaces.

Low maintenance and cleaning: Easy to clean and low in maintenance cost

Grease: By using some kind of grease, such as a layer of Vaseline, over the copper you can prevent copper corrosion

Sealer: Employing a paint sealer to keep air off the copper is another good way to stop copper corrosion

Lightweight: When used as a fully supported roof covering, copper is half the weight (including substrate) of lead and only a quarter of tiled roof

Ventilation: Copper does not require complex ventilation measures. It is suitable for both un-ventilated ‘warm’ and ventilated ‘cold’ roof constructions

Itaca wooden cladding with copper finish on the exterior which transforms into jali on the terrace levels
Itaca wooden cladding with copper finish on the exterior which transforms into jali on the terrace levels

Availability: Copper is a reddish metal that occurs naturally in rock, soil, water, sediment, and air. Its average concentration in the earth’s crust is about 50 parts copper per million parts soil (ppm). Copper also occurs naturally in plants and animals. It is an essential element for all known living organisms including humans and other animals.

Workmanship: Copper can be easily moulded or shaped in any desired shape

Exposure Pathways

Copper is common in the environment. You may be exposed to copper by breathing air, drinking water, eating food, and by skin contact with soil, water, and other copper-containing substances. Most copper compounds found in air, water, sediment, soil, and rock are so strongly attached to dust and dirt or imbedded in minerals that they cannot easily affect your health.

Copper window with glass panels
Copper window with glass panels

In the light of law of reciprocation, which is a universal principal of brahmand from the authors point of view, I think as the corona virus has affected directly the immunity of the human kingdom so vastly, it can be counteracted by increasing our immunity which is directly proportional to taking utmost care of our health.

In the light of this fact – if we introduce copper as an important constituent for manufacturing of precast façades and fenestrations, it will be a balancing factor to the health of the entire humankind. Copper has many miraculous inherent properties which can enhance the human and façade relationship and the entire aura of the building, as we can’t treat human and building differently.

The air passing through these fenestrations into the interiors space is also beneficial for respiration with reference to the below article published in an UK magazine and also, we should take into account the wisdom of ancient Indians who always used copper in their building material and water storage.

Form follows function - Bjarke Ingels Group designs domino-like copper façade for business school in Massachusetts (image by max touhey) Form follows function – Bjarke Ingels Group designs domino-like copper façade for business school in Massachusetts (image by max touhey)

Niket Sunil Upase

Founder Architect

Niket Sunil Upase is the Founder Architect of the design firm Ahamasmi Architect, and is affiliated to Council of Architecture, Indian BIM Forum and Association of Designers of India. Upase believes that architectural designing should be always people centric. The firm designs residential, institutional and commercial spaces ranging from 500 – 1,00,000+ Sq ft building footprint area with economical and innovative thoughtful architectural solution in adherence to Vaastu principles, offering urban planning, architectural and interior design solutions. Ar Niket Sunil Upase is open to work for oversea projects for architectural design and BIM related services and also provides architectural design and execution of works. The firm, Ahamasmi Architect, has expertise in BIM (architectural and MEP revit) outsourcing services too.

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