The facade is the front-facing outer surface of a building and therefore the first abstract representation of its architecture. It is designed as a creative element that reinforces or disrupts its neighbourhood identity. Automatic interpretation of buildings and, particularly, their facades is inevitable and this is why this outer surface is of great importance to an architect.
New technologies, however, have created opportunities and challenges in the facade environment that help increase the energy efficiency of buildings making it much more than an aesthetic element. These are unusual yet outstanding facades that are remarkable either on efficiency or sustainability.
What were your first impressions? Which one did you like most?
1. Endesa Pavilion
2. Fuel Station + McDonalds
The project is located in one of the newly urbanized parts of the seaside city of Batumi, Georgia. It includes fuels station, McDonald’s, recreational spaces and reflective pool. Spaces are composed in such way, that two major programs – vehicle services and dining are isolated from one another. The vegetation layer of the facade, which covers the cantilevered giant canopy of the fuel station adds natural environment and acts as an “ecological shield” for the terrace. Read more here.
Location: Batumi (Georgia)
Architect: Giorgi Khmaladze
3. Al Bahar Towers
Completed in June 2012, the 145 meter towers’ Masharabiya shading system was developed by the computational design team at Aedas. Using a parametric description for the geometry of the actuated facade panels, the team was able to simulate their operation in response to sun exposure and changing incidence angles during the different days of the year. The responsive facade takes cultural cues from the “mashrabiya”, a traditional Islamic lattice shading device. The facade operates in response to sun exposure and changing incidence angles during the different days of the year. Read more here.
Location: Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates)
Architect: Aedas Architects
The Former CUB Brewery site is the location for one of Melbourne’s most significant and ambitious developments. Located at a key urban site, the project has been the subject of long discussion and speculation, culminating in the multi-faceted and multi-authored scheme we now see today. The facade is a system of perimeter planters, fixed shading louvres, double glazed window walls and solar panel shading is Australia’s first carbon-neutral office building, generating all its own power and water on site. Read more here.
Location: Melbourne (Australia)
The building stands on a small street in a residential neighborhood in Mexico City. Although it is located in a residential area, the street is very close to a busy commercial thoroughfare. This allows the building to be immersed in the peace and quiet of its street, and at the same time confront the urban alienation that pervades the commercial zone. The facade is made up of 7,723 blown glass spheres made by craftsmen at a workshop in Guadalajara, Jalisco. Each sphere is supported by a disk of EPDM (a kind of rubber used in the automobile industry, with excellent resistance to weathering). Read more here.
Location: Mexico City (Mexico)
6. Ravensbourne College
Foreign Office Architects have completed the new tile-covered campus for Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication, located on the Greenwich Peninsula in London. The façade is composed of 28,000 anodised aluminium tiles in three different shapes and colours. The tiled façade is perforated with round windows of varying sizes, with two rows of windows per floor to provide views of the surrounding city. The pattern of the tiles is determined by the size and positioning of window openings, while the size of windows depends on the corresponding interior function. Read more here.
Location: London (UK)
Architect: Foreign Office Architects
7. Glass Farm
Schijndel’s market square suffered badly from WWII bombing; the Glass Barn is MVRDV’s seventh proposal for the site. The maximum envelope for the structure had the form of a traditional Schijndel farm. An image of the typical farm was composed and then printed using fritted procedure onto the 1800m2 glass facade, resulting in an effect such as a stained glass window in a cathedral. The print is more or less translucent depending on the need for light and views. Read more here.
Location: Schijndel(The Netherlands)
From a small lot with it’s unique implantation, this project has raised early on a couple of challenges. The box housing deviates from the gable to create a vertical yard (glass box), with a straight ladder connecting all floors, an allusion to the famous stairs of Alfama, running between the all 4 floors walls and linking the various dimensions. Its facade walls are completely covered with vegetation creating a vertical garden so, short levels of water consumption are guaranteed as well as little gardening challenges. Mini lung and an example of sustainability for the city of Lisbon. Read more here.
Location: Lisbon (Portugal)
Architect: Luís Rebelo de Andrade + Tiago Rebelo de Andrade + Manuel Cachão Tojal
9. Aqua Tower
The skyline of Chicago can be seen as the timeline of skyscraper history, which started in 1885 with the Home Insurance Building. The new Aqua Tower by Studio Gang is a highlight along this timeline, not just because of its height (250m tall) but also because of its sculptural condition. The facade design was inspired by the striated limestone outcroppings common in the Great Lakes area. But this sinuous shape is not just a mere formal gesture, but it is also a strategy to extend the views and maximize solar shading. Read more here.
Location: Chicago (U.S)
Architect: Studio Gang Architects
10. Can Cube
Can Cube’s facade is a system of aluminium carbonated drink cans which are enclosed in an aluminium frame. The façade saves the energy wasted during recycling processes by reusing the cans in their current form, without the need for recycling or further processes. By utilizing several ecological and renewable systems the building is highly efficient and sustainable. The entrance level and below ground level are both occupied by office space, while levels two and three are recreational and private living quarters. Read more here.
Location: Shangai (China)
Architect: Archi Union Architects Inc
11. Kolumba Museum
Situated in Cologne, Germany, a city that was almost completely destroyed in World War II, the museum houses the Roman Catholic Archdiocese’s collection of art which spans more than a thousand years. Zumthor’s design delicately rises from the ruins of a late-Gothic church, respecting the site’s history and preserving its essence. The facade fragments include the remaining pieces of the Gothic church, stone ruins from the Roman and medieval periods, and German architect Gottfried Böhm’s 1950 chapel for the “Madonna of the Ruins.” Read more here.
Location: Cologne (Germany)
Architect: Peter Zumthor