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)
8. House in Travessa de Patrocinio
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
Another fascinating collection. I do like the Aqua Tower. I wonder if you would be interested in trying to put some of your work to our local newspaper The Press? These examples of different facades and your post on modern places of worship are so relevant to the changes needed in our city after the earthquake.
Aqua Tower is one of my favourites, I see it every morning! And of course I would love to contribute. It looks as if you have a lot of construction going on right now =)
I don’t know how one would go about it but perhaps if you go to the Press website and check out this http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/opinion/perspective/8530141/We-must-get-cathedral-design-right you might get some ideas about possibilities.
Amazing! I am fascinated by these pics!
Very nice collection! I love the can cube, I haven’t seen it before!
Thanks for stopping by! I didn’t know this project either but it is indeed interesting. They did an “all you can drink” day on site for collecting the cans! It looks like a fun construction.
Wow! Those are unusual. I think if I had something like that in this town I would get arrested for stalking the building with my camera lol
haha that’s the attitude! Architecture need to be lived, not observed. Well said!
How weird and wonderful. I would love to live in a city surrounded by such varied, unconventional designs. Today’s structures are so casual and often only considered remarkable for suggesting a former time or a different place. Only the daring claim originality, it seems. A great post. Thanks.
Amazing thoughts as always! I hope the future of architecture looks like this since they are very sustainable (besides the curious shapes and forms). Thanks for stopping by!
Very nice picture.Do you have them in real life situation.Like place to visit for a vacation
Yes! All this projects are built and can be visited. I am sure any of these locations would be amazing for spending a vacation.
Wow . . . my house is so boring.
Wow!… thanks for sharing! My favorite, the Tinshed House… very Urban… my style!
I like it very much as well because it respects its context, it was built in the same way as an existing tin shed at the neighborhood. Thanks for stopping by =)
Brilliant Designs .Architect at its best.Remarkable pictures. Thank you for liking my post ( Our Anniversary Wishing you the best.jalal
These are so eccentric. Amazing piece of architecture 🙂
Thanks Naresh! Some of these are quite different to anything I’ve seen before!
Hi Virginia, this is a fabulous post! I can’t believe I was recently in Melbourne and missed Pixel – how fascinating. I guess I’ll just have to go back. All the best, Terri
Really? Then you’ll have to go back and visit! So many things are going on around Melbourne recently 🙂 Thanks for stopping by Terri!
These buildings are amazing! I would love to take photographs of just a few of them.
I would love to take pictures of all of those 😀
Great examples! I specially loved the origami facade, I think there is so much Arch potential in this Japanese tradition.
Also, I wanted to contribute to the list with a building from my city, have you ever seen the Media-Tic by Enric Ruiz Geli in Barcelona? It’s very innovative and sustainable! http://www.archdaily.com/49150/media-tic-enric-ruiz-geli/
Great share Clara! I didn’t know about this project. Congratulations, you’ve been selected for a free business card design. You will get all the details by email!
Your posts are fascinating, Virginia. Amazing architecture! 🙂
Thanks for your kind words 🙂
This was great.
Hey thanks for the visit and like on my blog, you have a great blog here.
Thanks for the nice comments 😀
Love this post. I’ve seen some of these designs and/or concepts before, and others are completely new to me. Some, like the glass farmhouse-echo in the Netherlands, are quite simply revelatory. Together they’re a wonderfully thought-provoking group and give me hope that architecture continues to evolve in interesting, useful and often beautiful ways whether it embraces the past or leaps away from it in bounds (or finds a happy medium somewhere). Thanks for sharing!
Kathryn, thanks for your kind words and your insight. I agree with you that with new technologies, architecture is evolving in very interesting ways. This group of building is especially interesting to me for this reason.
Thanks for stopping by 🙂
Wow – interesting and unique architectural works of art! Merci, too, for visiting my blog.
Thanks for the kind words 🙂
Virginia, another creative topic; unusual, beautiful & innovative facades as well as their in-depth descriptions, thank you. What was my favorite? Well actually I have 3 favorites:
1) Agua Tower (Chicago): amazing, incredibly moving & the location between 2 other fabulous buildings is superb; 2) Endesa Pavilion (Barcelona): love the idea of not perfectly square or round; and 3) Tinshed (Australia): totally original, raw & honest as described.
Bonnie, so glad to see you around here. Thanks for your kind words. Those three are among my favourites too although if I had to choose one, the Aqua Tower would win. It is so magnificent and the balconies are all different so you get the feeling that “your space” is actually yours. Maybe I get this feeling because I was able to visit it. What about you? Have you been in any of these?
Si hubiera llegado a tu blog antes ya conocería el de BCN! jajajaj bueno, nunca es tarde y en cuanto entregue el PFC me dedicaré a leer posts pasados 🙂
hehehe me halaga que digas eso 🙂
Muchíiiiiisimo ánimo con tu PFC que no te queda nada. Te espera todo lo mejor, sé fuerte estos últimos días :*
graaaaaaaacias por los ánimos!! ídem para tiiii
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That is really XXI century! Only free people can create the things like that!
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Very true! Technology in architecture has improved a lot, and hopefully it will continue improving 😉 Any favourites on the list?
I put the Kolumba Museum for my Köln plan: always appreciate when the old parts are integrated in the new whole. Checked Ravensbourne University and how to get to Laban Theatre from there – it was already in the list of H&dM. (Philipp’s your photo is wonderful!)
Alfama seems to be pleasant to see and comforting after returning from the city centre.
Aqua Tower seems to be very stylish among its dull-flat neighbours – next generation?
Wonderful idea of the Can Cube!
Pixel is funny! In Bilbao noticed similar attempts to avoid the dullness of streets in the same style, though not so bright.
Thank you for this bright page that is so necessary now!
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You’ve been to so many of these places, it’s amazing. I have never been to the Kolumba museum but next time I am in Germany… there I’ll go. I lived in Chicago for 2 years and had some friends living at Aqua Tower, truly amazing 😀 Would you enjoy living in such a tall skyscraper?