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This Building Saves Energy with a Pioneering Triple-Layer Glass Facade

06:00 - 24 April, 2017
This Building Saves Energy with a Pioneering Triple-Layer Glass Facade, © Adrien Buchet
© Adrien Buchet

Italian firm Giovanni Vaccarini Architetti has designed the new Headquarters of the Swiss Société Privée de Gérance (SPG), built on Route de Chêne, at the gates of the historical center of Geneva. The work involved the conversion and extension of the existing building, starting with a glass façade that meets the need for solar shading in the interiors while achieving maximum visual permeability. 

This façade also improves the acoustic and thermal insulation performance of the building: the double skin allows the envelope to be naturally ventilated and the perimeter ventilation system, combined with the internal forced ventilation system, reduces overall energy consumption. The steel structural elements on the façade, produced by Stahlbau Pichler (a specialist in the sector) produce a modular rhythm and the reflections on the glass shading panels give the project a particular "material weight." 

This Glass Bottomed Sky Pool is Suspended 500 Feet from the Ground

10:30 - 11 April, 2017

From the soaring infinity pool on top of Marina Bay Sands to a glass-bottomed pool hovering over a mountainous Italian landscape, it’s safe to say death-defying swimming elements have emerged as the most high-adrenaline trend in luxury accommodation.

Now, a new pool at Houston’s Market Square Tower is upping the ante even further with a transparent plexiglass wading pool that projects out 10 feet past the end of the building – and 500 feet above the busy street below.

New Book Calls for an End to Our Fetish for Conditioned Skyscrapers

06:00 - 16 March, 2017
New Book Calls for an End to Our Fetish for Conditioned Skyscrapers, Cambridge research seeks to end the architectural fetish of glass and steel skyscrapers © Flickr user tomhilton. Licensed under CC BY 2.0
Cambridge research seeks to end the architectural fetish of glass and steel skyscrapers © Flickr user tomhilton. Licensed under CC BY 2.0

Professor Alan Short of the University of Cambridge has published a book advocating for the revival of 19th-century architectural ideas to address the crippling energy use of modern skyscrapers. The Recovery of Natural Environments in Architecture proposes an end to the architectural fetish for glass, steel, and air conditioning, instead drawing inspiration from forgotten techniques in naturally ventilated buildings of the 1800s. The book is a culmination of 30 years’ research and design by Prof. Short and his colleagues at the University of Cambridge.

Cambridge research seeks to end the architectural fetish of glass and steel skyscrapers © Flickr user tomhilton. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 Professor Short argues that skyscraper design must depart from its current reliance on glass and steel, and begin to harness natural ventilation. Boeri Studio's Bosco Verticale. Image Courtesy of Paolo Rosselli Professor Alan Short calls for an overhaul of artificial ventilation in skyscrapers. Image Courtesy of University of Cambridge Energy demands from a recent skyscraper boom in China has led to energy controls on millions of inhabitants © Flickr user obscurepixels. Licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0 +5

Tonkin Liu Reveals the Cradle Towers of Zhengzhou

16:00 - 19 February, 2017
Tonkin Liu Reveals the Cradle Towers of Zhengzhou, The Cradle Towers of Zhengzhou will contain apartments, offices, retail, leisure, and a hotel. Image Courtesy of Tonkin Liu
The Cradle Towers of Zhengzhou will contain apartments, offices, retail, leisure, and a hotel. Image Courtesy of Tonkin Liu

London-based firm Tonkin Liu has released images of its competition-winning Trade Centre in Zhengzhou, China. The Cradle Towers of Zhengzhou will comprise of five mixed-use towers swooping out of a ring-shaped podium. Inspired by the nearby Songshan mountainscape, the scheme aims to celebrate the city’s origins as it rockets into a high-tech future.

A family of five towers creates an urban mountainscape. Image Courtesy of Tonkin Liu A responsive facade creates a heavy base, and lantern-like tips. Image Courtesy of Tonkin Liu A ring-shaped podium contains a soft landscaped garden. Image Courtesy of Tonkin Liu A family of mixed-use towers with responsive facades and vertical gardens. Image Courtesy of Tonkin Liu +8

Ode to Pioneers - A Vision For The 'House of Delft' Mixed-Use Hub

08:00 - 11 February, 2017
Ode to Pioneers - A Vision For The 'House of Delft' Mixed-Use Hub, Three tall facades take inspiration from famous historic Delft dwellings. Image Courtesy of Van Dongen-Koschuch Architects and Planners
Three tall facades take inspiration from famous historic Delft dwellings. Image Courtesy of Van Dongen-Koschuch Architects and Planners

Van Dongen–Kuschuch Architects and Planners has released images for its ‘House of Delft’ mixed-use hub in the Netherlands. Located beside Delft Central Train Station, the scheme will act as a gateway to both the historic city center and the renowned University of Technology. The architectural intent behind the proposal is to celebrate the artistic, scientific and innovative achievements which came from the city throughout its history. As visitors step off the train, it will be both an introduction to the city, and an indicator of what it has to offer.

The facades are to act as display windows to future innovation in Delft. Image Courtesy of Van Dongen-Koschuch Architects and Planners The House of Delft acts as an introduction to the city. Image Courtesy of Van Dongen-Koschuch Architects and Planners House of Delft will be constructed of high-quality durable materials. Image Courtesy of Van Dongen-Koschuch Architects and Planners House of Delft will offer a range of rented and market studios. Image Courtesy of Van Dongen-Koschuch Architects and Planners +8

See How Flexible, Superthin Glass is Produced

14:15 - 9 February, 2017

Superthin, flexible glass sounds like something out of a fantasy world – but in fact, it’s something many of us already use everyday as screens for our smartphones and watches. In this video from the Science Channel’s How It’s Made, the intricate process for creating this material, produced by glass manufacturer Schott, is revealed. Watch as the components of the glass are carefully measured out and blended before being melted and reformed into ultrathin sheets.

16 Materials Every Architect Needs to Know (And Where to Learn About Them)

16:00 - 14 January, 2017
16 Materials Every Architect Needs to Know (And Where to Learn About Them)

A building’s materiality is what our bodies make direct contact with; the cold metal handle, the warm wooden wall, and the hard glass window would all create an entirely different atmosphere if they were, say, a hard glass handle, a cold metal wall and a warm wooden window (which with KTH’s new translucent wood, is not as absurd as it might sound). Materiality is of just as much importance as form, function and location—or rather, inseparable from all three.

Here we’ve compiled a selection of 16 materials that should be part of the design vocabulary of all architects, ranging from the very familiar (such as concrete and steel) to materials which may be unknown for some of our readers, as well as links to comprehensive resources to learn more about many of them.

10 Things You Didn't Know About Modern Icon Pierre Chareau

06:00 - 16 December, 2016
10 Things You Didn't Know About Modern Icon Pierre Chareau, Pierre Chareau, Maison de Verre interior, 1928–32, Paris. Image © Mark Lyon. From the 2016 Organizational Grant to The Jewish Museum for "Pierre Chareau: Modern Architecture and Design."
Pierre Chareau, Maison de Verre interior, 1928–32, Paris. Image © Mark Lyon. From the 2016 Organizational Grant to The Jewish Museum for "Pierre Chareau: Modern Architecture and Design."

Known for his collaboration on the legendary Maison de Verre, French architect, and interior designer Pierre Chareau is a celebrated artist cited by Richard Rogers, Jean Nouvel, and more as a major influence on their work.

Completed in 1932, Maison de Verre—or “House of Glass”—has become a prime example of modern architecture, despite the fact that not many people have actually seen the hidden treasure, located on Paris’ Left Bank.

Although his work is currently viewed in high regard, Chareau had a tumultuous career, with large variances between his successes and his failures.

Drawing from a Cultured Magazine spotlight article on the designer, we have compiled a list of facts about Chareau’s life and career that showcase the rollercoaster of his success.

Continue reading for the 10 things you didn’t know about Pierre Chareau.

How Physico-Realistic Rendering Helps Architects Choose the Right Glass for Facades

10:30 - 21 October, 2016

The physical properties of glass are invaluable and unequaled when it comes to the architect’s material palette. From the time of the cathedrals and the the brilliantly colored stained glass that served a functional and didactic purpose, to the modernist liberation of the floor plan and the exquisitely-framed horizontal views provided by ample windows, architects have turned to glass to achieve not only aesthetic but performative conditions in their projects.

Today, Architects face an increasing array of choices in specifying and designing with glass for building facades, as glass manufacturers propose a greater variety of colors, textures and patterns than ever before. A wider range of coatings and treatments has also been developed, allowing for a finer selection of glass panes with a combination of light transmittance, reflectance and absorption to meet the needs of outstanding architectural projects. These options affect the aesthetics and energy performance of the glass, and therefore of the overall building.

Thanks to advanced calculation tools, energy performance can now be anticipated accurately, but the graphic representation of glass is still a challenge, and yet a crucial need for architects.

Veiled in Brilliance: How Reflective Facades Have Changed Modern Architecture

09:30 - 12 October, 2016
Veiled in Brilliance: How Reflective Facades Have Changed Modern Architecture, Reflections on glass façade. Elbphilharmonie, Hamburg. Architects: Herzog & de Meuron. Image © Frank Thiel
Reflections on glass façade. Elbphilharmonie, Hamburg. Architects: Herzog & de Meuron. Image © Frank Thiel

Even as modernism promoted the transparency of glass architecture, many within the movement were conscious of the monotony of large glass facades, with even Mies van der Rohe using elements such as his trademark mullions to break up his facades. But in the years since, countless uniform structural glazing skyscrapers have emerged and bored urban citizens. In response to this, unconventional reinterpretations of facades have gained interest.

Accompanied by the belief that light and brilliance could help in creating iconic architecture and a better human world, glass and metal have been innovatively transformed to create crystalline images. As a result, the locus of meaning in architecture has shifted from the internal space-form towards the external surface.

Los Angeles' Glass-Bottomed "Skyslide" Opens to the Public

16:00 - 28 June, 2016

Found in places as diverse as the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon, Willis Tower, and Tokyo Skytree, glass bottom observation decks have become the favorite engineering marvel of thrill seekers looking for a new perspective on the world. Now, the U.S. Bank Tower in downtown Los Angeles has upped the ante for adrenaline-spiking structures – affixing a glass side to the building’s facade. Spanning from a window on the 70th story to a terrace on the 69th, the 45-foot-long chute opened to the public on Saturday, providing those brave enough to ride it with unprecedented views of the city.

Fritted Glass: Staple or Trend?

08:00 - 30 March, 2016
Fritted Glass: Staple or Trend?, © flickr user swisscan, Licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
© flickr user swisscan, Licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Discovered by archaeologists in civilizations as old as ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, fritted glass is hardly a new technology. Yet thanks to its energy-saving abilities and the smooth, gradient aesthetic it produces, fritted glass has seen a rebirth in contemporary architecture.

Frit itself is a ceramic component that can be laid out into an assortment of patterns, most typically consisting of dots or lines. These patterns can then be silk-screened onto annealed glass using frit paint. Then, the glass is fired in a tempering furnace, which strengthens and improves the safety of the glass under thermal stress. The resulting product is glass of determined transparency that, when used in building facades, can reduce solar heat gain and even make buildings more visible and less deadly for birds.

AD Classics: Jyväskylä University Building / Alvar Aalto

09:00 - 28 March, 2016
AD Classics: Jyväskylä University Building / Alvar Aalto, © Nico Saieh
© Nico Saieh

Jyväskylä, a city whose status as the center of Finnish culture and academia during the nineteenth century earned it the nickname “the Athens of Finland,” awarded Alvar Aalto the contract to design a university campus worthy of the city’s cultural heritage in 1951. Built around the pre-existing facilities of Finland’s Athenaeum, the new university would be designed with great care to respect both its natural and institutional surroundings.

The city of Jyväskylä was by no means unfamiliar to Aalto; he had moved there as a young boy with his family in 1903 and returned to form his practice in the city after qualifying as an architect in Helsinki in 1923. He was well acquainted with Jyväskylä’s Teacher Seminary, which had been a bastion of the study of the Finnish language since 1863. Such an institution was eminently important in a country that had spent most of its history as part of either Sweden or Russia. As such, the teaching of Finnish was considered an integral part of the awakening of the fledgling country’s national identity.[1]

© Nico Saieh © Nico Saieh © Nico Saieh © Nico Saieh +24

Los Angeles' Tallest Tower to Get Terrifying "Skyslide"

13:40 - 3 March, 2016
Los Angeles' Tallest Tower to Get Terrifying "Skyslide", via LA Curbed
via LA Curbed

The West Coast's tallest building, Los Angeles' US Bank Tower is going to be outfitted with a terrifying glass slide designed by engineering firm M.Ludvik & Co. Set to hang 1000-feet above the street, the project will be part of the building's Gensler-designed OUE Skyspace LA attraction - soon to be California's tallest open-air observation deck. 

Watch SANAA's Grace Farms Come to Life in this Time Lapse

12:00 - 7 February, 2016

Grace Farms by SANAA perfectly illustrates the firm’s sinuous, elegant style, combining their understanding of glass and structure to create spaces so fluid that they’re hard to believe from just a photo. A new time lapse by Work Zone Cam shows the construction of this project in HD, capturing a period between September 2013 and October 2015. Work Zone Cam worked with Project Manager, Paratus Group, to document Grace Farms’ construction, including its central piece “The River”: a ribbon-like roof that blends seamlessly with the landscape. Watch the entire construction of the project in just 180 seconds after the break.

MIT Research Team Develops Affordable Smart Glass Alternative

17:00 - 27 January, 2016

When it comes to scrutinizing architectural materials for their energy efficiency, one offender stands out above the rest: glass. Windows and curtain walls act as one of a building’s main outlets for heating and cooling losses, and as society advances into its more environmentally-conscious future, new, passive solutions will need to be developed to mitigate buildings’ energy footprints. In recent years, various smart glass technologies have been designed to automatically regulate light and heat based on environmental conditions. Yet their high price tags have prevented them from achieving widespread application. Now, a team of MIT researchers may have discovered an alternative to smart glass that could come at an affordable price.

These Glass Walls Slide Around Corners to Disappear From View

16:30 - 2 December, 2015

One of the most popular tropes of Modernist architecture was the goal of dissolving the external boundaries of the home, connecting residents to nature through the use of large glass walls in order to "bring the outside in." Nowhere was this project more thoroughly realized than in Mies van der Rohe's 1930 Villa Tugendhat, where an entire side of the glass-walled living space could, if the user wished, be dropped through the floor and the house become open to the elements. Elegant though it was (especially in 1930), Mies' solution didn't catch on, limited by the fact that it required an electric motor and a basement below in which to store the disappeared facade.

These days, while countless houses incorporate glass walls that fold, slide, or swing open, few offer the bravura of Mies' design, choosing to move the glass off to the side rather than making it disappear entirely. This year though, window and door manufacturer Vitrocsa may have turned a corner in the provision of vanishing glass walls with its "Turnable" system.

Researchers Develop Smart Window Coating That Controls Light and Heat Transmission Independently

14:00 - 21 October, 2015
Researchers Develop Smart Window Coating That Controls Light and Heat Transmission Independently, © ACS Publications via Interesting Engineering
© ACS Publications via Interesting Engineering

In an era when both environmental comfort and sustainability are key concerns in architecture, the tendency to cover buildings entirely in glass is among the most criticized and controversial traits of contemporary architecture, as all-glass buildings often guzzle energy thanks to their demanding cooling and heating requirements. Over the years, a number of fixes for this problem have been attempted, including smart glass solutions that allow users to modify the transparency of the window. The problem with this solution, however, is that smart glass is unable to block infrared (heat) transmission without ruining the very thing that makes glass attractive in the first place: its transparency to visible light. That conundrum may soon be a thing of the past, though. As reported by Phys.org, a team of researchers at the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin have developed a new smart window technology that allows users to selectively control the transmission of light and heat to suit their requirements.