A look at five cutting-edge projects
A building’s façade occupies a space between architecture and setting, inside and outside. It’s the element entrusted with the job of introducing the building to people who are coming in or simply walking past. Besides this important aesthetic and identifying role, façades have the task of maintaining the wellbeing of the people inside, protecting them from the elements, noise, pollution, and all the other outdoor interferences.
While nowadays the designs being used to meet all these requirements are increasingly hi-tech, they also demonstrate the obligatory attention to sustainability. And they’re no longer solely the concern of architects at a time when so many of us can take advantage of tax incentive schemes that offer big deductions for upgrading the façades of existing buildings.
Many projects featuring state-of-the art façades were entered in the recent THE PLAN Award, an annual international award for excellence in architecture, interior design, and urban planning, with 20 categories, each divided into completed and future works.
Located between High Line Park and the Hudson River in New York, the Solar Carve office tower was designed by Studio Gang, which responded to the sun’s path and various site-specific criteria to open the building to light, fresh air, and river views. The building’s façade features a pattern of three-dimensional facets that punctuate the carved sections of the tower. This carved curtain wall creates dynamic workspaces inside the building, while minimizing sun glare and heat gain.
Moving from Manhattan to the hills of Chianti, MetroOffice Architetti designed La Manufacture, the Italian factory of French fashion house Celine. This is permeable architecture, distinguished by large windows that offer views over the Tuscan countryside. Although maximizing natural light inside the building, the windows are shielded from direct light by a glass block diaphragm suspended from the roof beams. This double glass skin creates kaleidoscopic reflections between the setting and the building, with the colors changing throughout the day and the seasons.
>>> Read more about Le Manufacture in the Chianti Hills, one of the projects mentioned in THE PLAN Award 2021 in the Production / Completed category
Wellbeing and sustainability were the guiding principles behind the design of Living the Noom, a residential complex in Cancún, Mexico, which almost exclusively uses renewable energy sources. The three buildings, designed by sanzpont [arquitectura], are surrounded by a real forest that grows from vertical wooden elements on the façade, forming a second outer shell that filters light and noise, as well as reducing the temperature of the interior. The buildings also have green roofs and photovoltaic panels.
Nature and the local tropical climate were among the sources of inspiration for Mecanoo’s design of the Tainan Public Library in Tainan, Taiwan’s oldest city. The design also draws from the local history, which is an amalgam of different cultures. Conjuring up the image of a bamboo forest, the building has a stepped design, with the roof wider than the base and narrow metal columns supporting the upper levels. The furthest projecting section is surrounded by vertical aluminum slats with carved floral motifs, which filter both light and heat.
Still on the subject of educational buildings, Harvard University’s Science and Engineering Complex, designed by German studio Behnisch Architekten, is high-performance, complex architecture, designed with sustainability in mind. Located at the new Allston Campus, on the opposite bank of the Charles River from the historic Boston university, the complex has achieved LEED Platinum certification. The building has four types of façade, including a hydroformed stainless steel screen constructed to reduce the impact of heat from the sun during the warmer months and let it in during the winter, therefore reducing cooling and heating loads.
Please refer to the individual links as indicated in the article above to look through the project's credits