Construction Aspects of Hybrid Water-Filled Building Envelopes

  • Matyas Gutai School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering, Loughborough University, Loughborough, United Kingdom
  • Lee Shwu-Ting, Prof. School of Architecture, Feng Chia University, Taichung, Taiwan
  • Bumpei Magori Institute of Industrial Science, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan
  • Yu Morishita, Dr Institute of Industrial Science, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan
  • Abolfazl Ganji Kheybari Faculty of Civil Engineering, TU Kaiserslautern, Kaiserslautern, Germany
  • Joshua Spencer School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering, Loughborough University, Loughborough, United Kingdom


Water-filled building envelopes are hybrid constructions with a solid and a fluid component, typically a glass or steel shell filled with water. The paper introduces the challenges of developing a water-filled façade structure and evaluates the possibility to utilise it as a viable construction system on a building scale. Water-filled glass (WFG) has been researched in the past and it was presented as an independent window element of a conventional building, where energy savings are achieved by using the absorption of the water layer for energy management of the building envelope. The results suggest that WFG’s efficiency could be improved further if the system is assembled as a united building envelope in which the fluid can flow between panels and building parts. The paper presents two experimental ‘water house’ buildings with these design parameters, designed and constructed by the author. The importance of these buildings is that a connected water-filled envelope is built for the first time. The discussion presents two construction methods for water-filled façades, evaluates their viability for different climates, introduces the design-construction aspects of the technology, and offers a comparison with existing construction methods. A fluid-solid building envelope provides significant savings for both operational and embodied energy, by lowering cooling load, reusing absorbed heat, balancing thermal differences between parts of the envelope and the rest of the building, while making additional construction elements (e.g. external shadings) obsolete.


Adalberth, K. (1997). Energy use during the life cycle of buildings: A method. Building and Environment, 32(4), 317–320. https://doi. org/10.1016/S0360-1323(96)00068-6

Arici, M., Karabay, H., & Kan, M. (2015). Flow and heat transfer in double, triple and quadruple pane windows. Energy and Buildings, 86, 394–402.

Bui, V. P., Liu, H. Z., Low, Y. Y., Tang, T., Zhu, Q., Shah, K. W., … Koh, W. S. (2017). Evaluation of building glass performance metrics for the tropical climate. Energy and Buildings, 157, 195–203.

Chow, T.-T., Li, C., & Lin, Z. (2011a). The function of solar absorbing window as water-heating device. Building and Environment, 46(4), 955–960.

Chow, T.-T., Li, C., & Lin, Z. (2011b). Thermal characteristics of water-flow double-pane window. International Journal of Thermal Sciences, 50(2), 140–148.

Chow, T.-T., & Lyu, Y. (2017). Numerical analysis on the advantage of using PCM heat exchanger in liquid-flow window. Applied Thermal Engineering, 125, 1218–1227.

Chow, T. T., Li, C., & Lin, Z. (2010). Innovative solar windows for cooling-demand climate. Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells, 94(2), 212–220.

Chow, T. T., & Lyu, Y. (2017). Effect of design configurations on water flow window performance. Solar Energy, 155, 354–362.

Cui, Z., & Mizutani, A. (2016). Research on the reduction effect of transparent glass on cooling power energy consumption research on the reduction of cooling and heating loads by transparent solar heat absorbing glass panels (Part 2). Journal of Asian Architecture and Building Engineering, 15(3), 651–658.

DeForest, N., Shehabi, A., O’Donnell, J., Garcia, G., Greenblatt, J., Lee, E. S., … Milliron, D. J. (2015). United States energy and CO2 savings potential from deployment of near-infrared electrochromic window glazings. Building and Environment, 89, 107–117.

Douglas, R. W., & El-Shamy, T. M. M. (1967). Reactions of Glasses with Aqueous Solutions. Journal of the American Society, 50, 1–8.

El-Shamy, T. M., Morsi, S. E., Taki-Eldin, H. D., & Ahmed, A. A. (1975). Chemical durability of Na2OCaOSiO2 glasses in acid solutions. Journal of Non-Crystalline Solids, 19(C), 241–250.

Ellestad, L. B., & Leute, K. M. (1950). US 2 516 109. United States.

Experimental - Future Projects - 2017 | World Architecture Festival. (2017). Retrieved September 2, 2019, from https://www.

Gasparella, A., Pernigotto, G., Cappelletti, F., Romagnoni, P., & Baggio, P. (2011). Analysis and modelling of window and glazing systems energy performance for a well insulated residential building. Energy and Buildings, 4(43), 1030–1037.

Ghosh, A., Norton, B., & Duffy, A. (2016). Measured thermal performance of a combined suspended particle switchable device evacuated glazing. Applied Energy, 169, 469–480.

Gil-Lopez, T., & Gimenez-Molina, C. (2013). Influence of double glazing with a circulating water chamber on the thermal energy savings in buildings. Energy and Buildings, 56, 56–65.

Gutai, M. (2010). Dissolution Method and Water House Model. (Doctoral Dissertation, The University of Tokyo).

Gutai, M., & Kheybari, A. G. (2020). Energy consumption of water-filled glass (WFG) hybrid building envelope. Energy and Buildings, 218.

Gutai, M., & Kheybari, A. G. (2021). Energy consumption of hybrid smart water-filled glass (SWFG) building envelope. Energy and Buildings, 230.

Gutai, M. (2015). Trans-structures. New York: Actar Publishing.

Gutai, M. (2011). P 11 00 156. Hungary.

Gutai, M. (2012). 6250530. Japan: Japan Patent Office.

Gutai, M. (2012). EP2689192A2. European Union.

Hemaida, A., Ghosh, A., Sundaram, S., & Mallick, T. K. (2020). Evaluation of thermal performance for a smart switchable adaptive polymer dispersed liquid crystal (PDLC) glazing. Solar Energy, 195, 185–193.

Hijnen, W. A. M., Beerendonk, E. F., & Medema, G. J. (2006). Inactivation credit of UV radiation for viruses, bacteria and protozoan (oo)cysts in water: A review. Water Research, 40(1), 3–22.

Ismail, K. A. R., Salinas, C. T., & Henriquez, J. R. (2009). A comparative study of naturally ventilated and gas filled windows for hot climates. Energy Conversion and Management, 50(7), 1691–1703.

Kamitani, K., & Teranishi, T. (2003). Development of water-repellent glass improved water-sliding property and durability. Journal of Sol-Gel Science and Technology, 26(1–3), 823–825.

Li, C., & Chow, T.-T. (2011). Water-filled double reflective window and its year-round performance. In Procedia Environmental Sciences (Vol. 11, pp. 1039–1047).

Liu, Z., Stout, J. E., Tedesco, L., Boldin, M., Hwang, C., & Yu, V. L. (1995). Efficacy of ultraviolet light in preventing Legionella colonization of a hospital water distribution system. Water Research, 29(10), 2275–2280.

Lyu, Y.-L., Chow, T.-T., & Wang, J.-L. (2018). Numerical prediction of thermal performance of liquid-flow window in different climates with anti-freeze. Energy, 157, 412–423.

Matsuda, A., Matsuno, Y., Katayama, S., & Tsuno, T. (1989). Weathering resistance of glass plated coated with sol-gel derived 9TiO2 91SiO2 films. Journal of Materials Science Letters, 8, 902–904.

Moe, K. (2010). Thermally Active Surfaces in Architecture. New York: Princeton Architectural Press

Ostroushko, Y. I., Filipova, K. ., & Ignateva, L. A. (1962). Reaction of spodumene with sulfuric acid. Russ. Journal of Inorganic Chemistry, 7(2), 126–129.

Pal, S., Roy, B., & Neogi, S. (2009). Heat transfer modelling on windows and glazing under the exposure of solar radiation. Energy and Buildings, 41(6), 654–661.

Qahtan, A., Rao, S. P., & Keumala, N. (2014). The effectiveness of the sustainable flowing water film in improving the solar-optical properties of glazing in the tropics. Energy and Buildings, 77, 247–255.

Ramesh, T., Prakash, R., & Shukla, K. K. (2010). Life cycle energy analysis of buildings: An overview. Energy and Buildings, 42(10), 1592–1600.

Robinet, L., Coupry, C., Eremin, K., & Hall, C. (2006). The use of Raman spectrometry to predict the stability of historic glasses. Journal of Raman Spectroscopy, 37(7), 789–797.

Sanders, D. M., & Hench, L. L. (1973). Mechanisms of Glass Corrosion. Journal of the American Ceramics Society, 56(7), 373–377

Sierra, P., & Hernández, J. A. (2017). Solar heat gain coefficient of water flow glazings. Energy and Buildings, 139, 133–145. https://

Tao, Q., Jiang, F., Li, Z., & Zheng, J. (2020). A model of heat gain calculation for buildings with shuttle louvers: Verification and a case study. Journal of Building Engineering, 29.

Tournié, A., Ricciardi, P., & Colomban, P. (2008). Glass corrosion mechanisms: A multiscale analysis. Solid State Ionics, 179(38), 2142–2154.
How to Cite
GUTAI, Matyas et al. Construction Aspects of Hybrid Water-Filled Building Envelopes. Journal of Facade Design and Engineering, [S.l.], v. 8, n. 2, p. 127-152, dec. 2020. ISSN 2213-3038. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 26 jan. 2021. doi: