overview of wiki's

detail images of brise soleil

KAP am Südkai - KSP Engel und Zimmermann Architekten
ABC-Tower (office next to it)-Cologne
Fünf Höfe - Herzog & de Meuron
building at Tooley Street-London
PT (Portugal Telecom)-Porto
university building-Valencia
office building-Valencia
Law Court / Justitiepaleis - Richard Rogers Partnership
Embassy of Saudi Arabia - NF Architects & BCB Bartels Consult
computer science faculty-Valencia
university building-Lille
apartments - Theo Hotz
Edificio 15 de Novembro - APEL
Ministerio da Justicia-Lisbon
university building - Gonçalo Byrne

Brise soleil

The term brise soleil refers to a variety of elements used to prevent direct sunlight to enter a building. The definition here is extended to all shadow casting elements that are connected to the exterior of the building, including all sorts of screens and external blinds.

Click here for an extensive overview of buildings that have some sort of brise soleil applied.

Basics of solar protection

how incoming sunlight heats a building

Direct sunlight that enters a building heats the floors and the walls. These floors and walls start to work as a heating, causing uncomfortable temperatures. As it costs a lot of energy and money to abduct the hot air with an airconditioning system, it’s common practice to block part of the direct sunlight before it reaches the window glass.

The major complication is that the angle at which sun rays enter the window depends on the time of day, the time of year, the overcast and the lattitude of the building. Therefore not any type of brise soleil will work on any place or any time.

Differences in sun angles. These images show a south west oriented window on August 21 at noon. The left one is located in Oslo, the right one in Athens.

Adjustable and fixed brise soleil

Two distuingishable types of solutions are available: fixed brise soleil that is designed to block the sun rays that come in relatively vertically, and adjustable brise soleil that can be adapted, manually or automatically, to the weather conditions of the moment.

Fixed variants of brise soleil

Fixed brise soleil should not block the horizontal view fromout a window. In many occassions the brise soleil only covers the upper part of windows. Another option is to use fins or some perforated element that cover the whole window, but still allow for some outer view.

Adjustable brise soleil

These systems can be adjusted to the weather conditions of the moment. External venetian blinds, external roller blinds, --rolgordijnen- awnings, shutters and sliding screens are the most common types of adjustable brise soleil. Less regular types are adjustable fins or other, less or more exotic, motorized systems.

Horizontally projected brise soleil

Often found as protection for a glazed top floor. Effecitive during summer, when the azimuth value of the sun is high. During winter it doesn't have have much effect. Mostly made of aluminium, steel or wood.


university building - Lille - France
Simple addition of basic aluminium frameworks to a sophisticated facade. The slanted facade faces north.
Edificio 15 de Novembro - APEL - Porto - Portugal
Projected brise soleil is responsible for the looks of this buildings facade
office building - Düsseldorf - Germany
Typical solar protection for the top floor of an office building
Dresdner Bank - GMP Gerkan, Marg & partner - Berlin - Germany
These horizontally projected louvres are actually foldable shutters. The ones on the ground floor are fixed
Greenwich Millennium Village - London - United Kingdom
Housing at Greenwich Millenium Village, London. Brise soleil made of painted wood

Horizontal fins

Many variants are possible. The fins either cover a whole facade or just the top parts of the windows. Often the fins are made of aluminium and have a flat oval profile. They can be made of glass as well. Glass fins block part of the sunlight and you can add a film to the glass that redirects part of the light (not the heat) into the building.


Elbberg Campus Altona - BRT Architekten Bothe Richter Teherani - Hamburg - Germany
No detail images available but the louvres on its facade seem to be rotatable
office building - Lille - France
Horizontal louvres on this building in Lille provide a multi layered facade effect
Ferring International Centre - Henning Larsen - Copenhagen - Denmark
Ferring International Centre in Copenhagen. Because of them, the building looks extremely dark
Belgacom - M. & J-M. Jaspers - J. Eyers & Partners - Brussels - Belgium
Horizontal fins on the transparent building in the financial district of Brussels, Belgium
offices - Lisbon - Portugal
Radical use of horizontal fins on this office building in Lisbon. Fins are directly attached to the curtain walling facade.
Cameleon - AWAA - Brussels - Belgium
Outlet store in Brussels. The building is known for its use of renewable energy and uses wooden louvres for the front facade.
office building - London - United Kingdom
Building in London. It's looks are based on the use of wooden louvres.
Carlson Wagonlit Travel - Copenhagen - Denmark
The west facade of this Copenhagen hotel has transparent louvres. They might have a function in blocking noise as well.
Chamber of Commerce - Claude Vasconi - Luxembourg - Luxembourg
Transparent louvres covering the upper part of the windows. The glass has a pattern in it and is not fully transparent.
Law Court / Justitiepaleis - Richard Rogers Partnership - Antwerp - Belgium
The use of glass louvres at Richard Rogers Law Court in Antwerp adds to the appearance of the facade.

Fixed screens

Not as flexible as sliding screens, but cheaper and easier to maintain.

examples of fixed screens

apartments Ørestad - Copenhagen - Denmark
Apartment building in Ørestad, Copenhagen. The screens add a multi layered effect to the facade .
apartments Ørestad - Copenhagen - Denmark
Another apartment building in Ørestad. The screens consist of metal gauze in a steel frame.
apartment building - London - United Kingdom
New apartments in London. The random pattern of the screens suggests that they slide, but they are probably fixed.
AkBank - Istanbul - Turkey
Bank in Istanbul. It's a bit a-typical but it works.

Sliding screens

Sliding screens are mostly made of metal frames with horizontal laths within. They create kind of loose, random patterns to a facade. We found a lot of them on recent housing projects in Copenhagen.

examples of sliding screens

apartments Ørestad - Copenhagen - Denmark
Large apartment block in Copenhagen. The screens consist of wooden laths in a metal frame.
housing Sluseholmen - Copenhagen - Denmark
House in Sluseholmen, Copenhagen. The screens have a rusty metal look but they are just painted this color.
apartments - Copenhagen - Denmark
One more apartment block in Copenhagen. The screens are used as the major facade element.
apartments - Luxembourg - Luxembourg
Apartments in Luxembourg with painted metal screens.
Harbour Hall - APB Architekten BDA - Hamburg - Germany
Harbour Hall of ABP Architekten in Hamburg. The screens induce a regular random pattern.

Folding screens

Not a very regular solution. Often the screens are made of perforated metal.

examples of folding screens

Altis Belém Hotel - RISCO architects - Lisbon - Portugal
Beautiful example of RISCO architects in Lisbon. The screens are made of metal and have a similar pattern as the glass.
bureaux Axento - Arlette Schneiders - Luxembourg - Luxembourg
Office building on the Kirchberg Plateau in Luxembourg. It has remarkable brown painted metal screens.
offices ´IKB International´ - RKW (Rhode, Kellermann, Wawrowsky) - Luxembourg - Luxembourg
Another office building in Luxembourg. The screens are a little transparent.
Fünf Höfe - Herzog & de Meuron - Munich - Germany
Fünf Höfe in Munich with perforated screens, typical for Herzog & de Meuron architecture.
apartment building - Ljubljana - Slovenia
Apartments in Ljubljana with large circular perforations in the screens.

External blinds

This type seems to be the default solution for office buildings in Germany. The blinds can be rotated to adjust the amount of sunlight coming in, and they can be put up on a cloudy day.

examples of external blinds

office building - Ingenhoven Overdiek Architects - Düsseldorf - Germany
The whole facade is covered with external blinds that can be opened or closed individually. The facade becomes a pattern of graytones.
office building - Cologne - Germany
Another typical German office building with external blinds
office building - Cologne - Germany
The blinds have the same color as the facade tiles. Rotating the blinds make them look darker
Architectuurstudio Herman Hertzberger - 	 	Im MediaPark 4 - forum im MediaPark - Cologne - Germany
All shades of gray are visible, due to the reflectiveness of the blinds.
House of Architects - werk.um Architects - Düsseldorf - Germany
The building of the Chamber of architects North Rhine - Westphalia in Düsseldorf has the typical German blinds as well


Using laths as a facade material gives interesting options for sun shading.


university building - Valencia - Spain
Metal laths give a smooth layered effect, strengthened by the color accents on the inner wall.
office building - Valencia - Spain
The whole facade is built up with laths. The light gray color is the result of omitting laths.
Debis - Renzo Piano, Christoph Kohlbecker - Berlin - Germany
Debis Haus at Potzdammer Platz in Berlin is fully covered with laths.

Vertical fins

Using vertical fins is a good method of hiding a facade. The fins will dominate the and everything behind it is hardly noticable.

examples of vertical fins

building at Tooley Street - London - United Kingdom
Building at Tooley Street in London, nearby the new City Hall at the South bank of the Thames. The fins are fixed to the curtain wall
office building - Marseille - France
Some office building in Marseille. The facade behind the fins is hardly visible.
PT (Portugal Telecom) - Porto - Portugal
Not the regular wing flat oval fins on the Portugese building but some other profile shape, blocking most of the direct sunlight.

Perforated metal screen

As any perforation design can be produced it gives lots of options for patterns or randomness.

examples of perforated metal screens

psychiatric hospital 'La Conception' - SCAU (A. Zublena, B. Cabannes)  - Marseille - France
Random perforation patterns with highest perforation density where the windows are.
Embassy of Saudi Arabia - NF Architects & BCB Bartels Consult - Berlin - Germany
Typical Arabian patterns. You can't see the inside but if you are within you can look outside easily
parking - Ljubljana - Slovenia
Technically it's not perforated metal but at least the metal screen covers the whole facade.
house on Borneo Sporenburg - Amsterdam - Netherlands
House on Borneo Sporenburg in Amsterdam. The screen is probably more about aesthetics than about sun shade.

Other types of brise soleil

The classification used here doesn't cover everything we found. Therefore some more examples:

examples of hard-to-classify brise soleil

Ørestad Gymnasium - 3XN Architects - Copenhagen - Denmark
School in Ørestad from 3XN architects. It has rotatable glass panels with a print.
La Défense - Paris - France
Building at La Défense, Paris. The concrete construction functions as sun protection.
office building - Rafael de la Hoz - Madrid - Spain
Building of Rafael de la Hoz in Madrid. The outer glass facade reflects part of the sunlight.
office building - Madrid - Spain
Another office building in Madrid. It looks as if the panels are movable but probably they are just fixed.

Alternative strategies to keep the sun out

Instead of adding elements to a facade, the sun protection can be an integral part of a facade as well.

Some examples

Tarra Tower - MVRDV - Almere - Netherlands
Office building in Almere, Netherlands. The facade has deep reveals and most of the windows have a rather limited height.
apartment building - Paris - France
Protruding floors of this apartment building in Paris function as sun screens.
apartments - Zurich - Switzerland
Apartments in Zurich, Switzerland. The cantilevered boxes give shadow to the floors below.
Sky Dome - Ir Wiel Arets Architect & Associates - Amsterdam - Netherlands
The loggia's of this tower of Wiel Arets in Amsterdam provide a lot of shadow.
Philharmonie Luxembourg - Christian de Portzamparc - Luxembourg - Luxembourg
Philharmonie Luxembourg by Christian de Portzamparc. Two or three layers of columns cast shadow of the glass facade.
Ellipse Building - Montois Partners / Art & Build - Brussels - Belgium
Typical office building in Brussels. Part of the sunlight is reflected by the glass.
office building - Madrid - Spain
Office building in Madrid. The concrete construction works as a screen of large vertical louvres.
National Library - Dominique Perrault - Paris - France
National Library, Paris. Its rotating panels behind the glass facade are not as effective as external brise soleil, but Perrault wanted to preserve the glass reflections.
university building - Valencia - Spain
Sunlight on this building in Valencia is blocked radically by using lots of concrete. It gives the building a brutalist look.
university building - Gonçalo Byrne - Lisbon - Portugal
The horizontal louvres on this university building in Lisbon are an integral part of the precast concrete facade.