French School of Asian Studies Centre achieves award-winning sustainable design while protecting rare books with SageGlass dynamic glass

The École Française d’Extrême-Orient (EFEO) in Kyoto, Japan, also known as the French School of Asian Studies, is using electronically tintable SageGlass® from Saint-Gobain to control natural light and heat gain in the eco-friendly building while also protecting its extensive library of rare Asian books.  The Holcim Award-winning building, designed by the MIKAN architectural firm, is the newest of 18 research centers across Asia that supports interdisciplinary research on Asian civilizations.

The Kyoto Centre is devoted to the study of Japanese history, literature, religion, anthropology, architecture and other humanities.

The architects wanted the building’s design to reflect the organization’s focus on history and research. Sustainability was also a key design objective. Consequently, the structure merges state-of-the-art technology with traditional Japanese artisanship.

Because the Centre was built on a narrow site surrounded tightly by neighboring buildings on three sides, the street-facing façade was the only source of natural light, and served as the prominent architectural design element. It consists of a three-story curtain wall of SageGlass dynamic glass that exposes people outside to its beautiful Japanese post-and-beam construction and woodwork, as well as its giant staircase that also serves as dramatic bookshelf for the EFEO’s library.

Protection of these rare books was a key driver for selecting SageGlass, according to architect Manuel Tardits of MIKAN. “As a research institute, the Centre holds a library of more than 10,000 works on Asian social studies, especially Buddhism and Taoism, as well as other famed collections from donors. The EFEO did not want to use shades or blinds to obscure the external view of this important cultural and intellectual resource. SageGlass enables viewing of the library throughout the day by providing UV protection and variable tinting in response to the intensity of the western sun,” he said.

SageGlass also helped MIKAN achieve its design objectives for energy efficiency and maximizing natural light for the benefit of researchers inside. SageGlass is electrochromic glazing that tints automatically to optimize daylight, indoor/outdoor views and comfort while preventing glare, fading and heat gain.

The combination of using sustainable building technologies like SageGlass with traditional Japanese woodworking methods helped the Centre win a 2014 Holcim Award for Sustainable Construction. The Holcim jury said that the project is “an ideal example of how to combine high-tech and low-tech construction in contemporary building practice. The structure—a manifesto in its own right—merges modern state-of-the-art technology with traditional artisanship. Bringing the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ together requires a specific sensibility, based on an understanding of architecture as a form of research. While looking at history, future solutions are sought, as an approach adhering to the fundamental mandate of the institution as a research centre.”

Saint-Gobain donated SageGlass and other advanced building materials to support construction of this important research facility.

About SageGlass 

SageGlass®, a product of Saint-Gobain, is advanced dynamic glass that can be electronically tinted or cleared to optimize daylight and improve the human experience in buildings. SageGlass manages the sunlight and heat that enter a building, significantly reducing energy consumption while improving people’s comfort and well-being. It can reduce a building’s cooling load by 20% and HVAC requirements up to 30%. It is a smarter, more elegant solution than conventional sun controls such as mechanical window shades, blinds and louvers. With SageGlass you can control sunlight and glare without shades or blinds while maintaining the view and connection to the outdoors. SageGlass is manufactured in Faribault, Minn., in the heart of “the Silicon Valley of the window industry,” and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Saint-Gobain of Paris, the world’s largest building materials company.

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About Saint-Gobain in North America

Saint-Gobain has its North American headquarters in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. As the world leader in sustainable habitat, Saint-Gobain is committed to inventing solutions to help professionals and communities around the world build and renovate comfortable, healthy, economical and energy-efficient buildings. The company has more than 250 locations in North America and approximately 15,000 employees. In the United States and Canada, Saint-Gobain reported sales of approximately $6.2 billion in 2014.

Recognized as a 2009 and 2010 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Saint-Gobain earned the 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 ENERGY STAR Sustained Excellence Award, the highest level of recognition for outstanding contributions to protecting the environment through energy efficiency. For more information about Saint-Gobain in North America, visit and connect with the company on Facebook and Twitter.       

About Saint-Gobain

In 2015, Saint-Gobain is celebrating its 350th anniversary, 350 reasons to believe in the future. Backed by its experience and its capacity to continuously innovate, Saint-Gobain, the world leader in the habitat and construction market, designs, manufactures and distributes high-performance and building materials providing innovative solutions to the challenges of growth, energy efficiency and environmental protection. With 2014 sales of $54.6 billion, Saint-Gobain operates in 64 countries and has over 180,000 employees. For more information about Saint-Gobain, visit and the twitter account @saintgobain

600450 French School of Asian Studies Centre achieves award-winning sustainable design while protecting rare books with SageGlass dynamic glass
Date: 5 August 2015

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