The Third Skin

The Third Skin

Since the advent of man seeking shelter, the concept of the Third Skin was critical to survival. Human skin is the first skin, our clothing is our second skin and the facades of our buildings are the Third Skin. The Third Skin describes the intimate relationship between humans and the living space. Today, the concept of the Third Skin has evolved into what’s called the Dynamic Façade. The Dynamic Facade is the filter between the indoor and outdoor environments. This filter should provide protection from the elements, such as heat and cold, an exchange of ventilated fresh air, sufficient natural daylight, and a connection with the outdoors.

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The intention of today’s building skin is to create a place for the occupants to live, work or learn in comfort along with a visual connection to the outside world. The Dynamic Façade is designed to filter and manipulate sunlight, regulate heat exchanges, provide ventilation and reduce energy costs.

With the advent of today’s Dynamic Facades, window coverings play a critical role in the success of the Façade or Third Skin. With this need of high performance of window coverings, they have evolved into Engineered Shading Solutions.


Since the introduction of the spring roller shade by the Hartshorn Shade Company of the 1800’s, window coverings have been mostly an afterthought, not considered a part of the building system. It has been simply a way to filter light with not much planning.


Historically, Engineered Shading Solutions are not a new phenomenon. In the year 70 A.D. the Romans shaded the spectators at the Colosseum with an impressive awning system called the Velarium.


Today Engineered Shading Solutions are an important part of the Dynamic Façade. Without the advances in Shading Solutions, the Dynamic Façade would not be an effective filter between us and the outside world. The Third Skin would lack the ability to reduce solar energy from entering the space, reduce glare from excessive Daylighting, control the level of sunlight and provide privacy when needed.  

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