The façade is one of the most important elements in an architectural project. In addition to being the building's first barrier against heat, rain, snow, or wind, it also largely determines the appearance of a building. It can make the project stand out, blend into urban context, or even manifest, at first glance, values of transparency, lightness, or simplicity that the architect seeks to convey. Accordingly, the façade also constitutes a significant portion of the total cost of the work and, therefore, must be specified very carefully, taking into account aesthetics, functionality, maintenance, and long-term behavior.
Facades: The Latest Architecture and News
Polycarbonate has become an alluring alternative to glass in facades, as it has different levels of translucency and can provide optimal transmission and diffusion of light. Moreover, it is light, flexible, recyclable, durable, resistant to impact, and includes UV protection, in addition to resisting temperatures between -40°C and 115°C. But beyond its functional properties, this thermoplastic also provides wide-ranging aesthetic opportunities, allowing architects to create unusually dynamic and expressive facades.
Shortly before the First World War, Harry Brearley (1871-1948), who had been working as a metalworker since he was 12 years old, developed the first stainless steel. Seeking to solve the problem of wear on the inner walls of British army weapons, he ended up obtaining a corrosion resistant metal alloy, and added chrome to the cast iron. The invention found applications in almost all industrial sectors including for the production of cutlery, health equipment, kitchens, automotive parts, and more, replacing traditional materials such as carbon steel, copper, and even aluminum. In civil construction, this was no different, and stainless steel was soon incorporated into buildings.
In countries where architecture adapts to the seasons, projects must respond so that they are comfortable for the users, both in the hot summer temperatures and in the cold winter. Tropical countries, such as Colombia, are a bit luckier. The temperature of construction sites depends less on the seasons and more on where they are located geographically according to the altitude above sea level; the closer they are to the sea, the warmer it is. For this reason, it is not essential to seal or insulate the interior spaces. On the contrary, the good management of constant ventilation creates a more permeable and contextual architecture.
We have put together a series of projects with different architectural programs: local markets, health facilities, cultural, education and housing projects. They show that with different construction techniques, you can begin to control the permeability, air flow, privacy or solar heat gain. Explore each of these projects below.
A lightweight material par excellence, Zinc is a non-ferrous metal that provides an effective solution for coating buildings exposed to adverse weather condition while simultaneously delivering a creative response to the requirements of the program and the users of the project.
When in contact with humidity, Zinc panels generate a self-protecting layer that isolates heat from indoor spaces during the summer. Rain and snow, slide easily over its surfaces, and its modular panels can wrap curved shapes or be perforated according to the architectural design, and combined in facades and/or ceilings through different shades, brightness, and colors.
For a small child, understanding the concept of time and its passage is very difficult. As a result, children are often impatient when expecting something or confused when trying to remember something from the past. They live in the present, and learn the notion of time only little by little. But accepting the passage of time, and the reality of aging, is something that plagues us even as adults. The lucrative cosmetic and plastic surgery industries show how humanity seeks to control or deny the passage of time, an urge that has proved to be relentless.
The digitization of production and technological resources linked to the development of increasingly sophisticated tools has a direct impact on the contemporary practice of architecture and urbanism. Thinking about cities and buildings based on the digital assumption provides great possibilities for innovation in terms of design, optimization of resources and processes, improvement in performance and monitoring the maintenance of work, among other aspects. Many tools are already available, ranging from artificial intelligence to 3D printing, through various devices that change the paradigms of the profession and demand a new attitude when designing.
Interested in building light and modular facades with a rustic and monolithic appearance?
Composed of cement, cellulose, and mineral materials, fiber cement allows us to clad walls in a light, non-combustible, and rain-resistant way, generating facades with different textures, colors, and tones. Its panels are easily manageable, perforable, and can configure ventilated facades when installed with a certain separation between the rear wall. Check after the break for 9 projects that have cleverly used fiber cement as the primary material in facades.
Double skin façades. Almost a self-explanatory name for façade systems consisting of two layers, usually glass, wherein air flows through the intermediate cavity. This space (which can vary from 20 cm to a few meters) acts as insulation against extreme temperatures, winds, and sound, improving the building's thermal efficiency for both high and low temperatures. Perhaps one of the most famous examples of double-skin facades is Foster+Partners' 30 St Mary Ax Building, "The Gherkin."
The airflow through the intermediate cavity can occur naturally or be mechanically driven, and the two glass layers may include sun protection devices.
For most of the history of architecture, interesting facades were achieved through materiality or ornamentation. From the elaborately painted friezes of the Parthenon to the glass exteriors of modern skyscrapers, architecture was primarily static, only ‘changing’ as the environment would change and affect the material of the façade in differing ways, be it rain, light, rust, etc.
Many of us spend most of our days sitting behind a computer and working. In our working environments, not only indoor conditions, but also the daily interactions with building’s façade (i.e. opening a window, closing a window blind or simply looking out from a window) have a major impact on our experiences. In that respect, as a part of an ongoing Ph.D. research, this survey investigates users' experiences in their working environments, related to the building's façade.
The ventilated façade is a construction solution that uses a double enclosure distanced from each other by a support structure to generate an air chamber for ventilation. This operation creates a chimney effect that activates air currents by convection, improving the acoustic and thermal insulation of the building, and increasing its energy efficiency.
Due to its nature and manufacturing, the 3.5 mm porcelain tile is a great choice for ventilated façade cladding. Its high resistance to weathering, dimensional stability, and lightness reduce the support structure requirements. It weighs 3 times less than a traditional porcelain tile and allows large formats, up to 3.6 meters, reducing the number of joints. It also delivers high color stability, impact resistance, and low maintenance over time.
Modular coatings for facades and enclosures typically deliver fast and efficient solutions. However, many times they lack richness and character since they are repeated infinitely, without relating to the architectural design and its different functions and requirements.
These aluminum foam panels are manufactured through an air injection process in molten aluminum, which contains a fine dispersion of ceramic particulate. These ceramic particles stabilize the air bubbles, and create aluminum foam panels which provide an interesting level of detail and variability, generating unique facades with different levels of texture, transparency, brightness, and opacity. These ultralight panels can be used as flat architectural sheets, are 100% recyclable and available in standard sized formats up to 3.66 meters long (custom longer panels also available).
At the start, train cars stand ready with cement and bales of fibers. A machine processes the mixture layer by layer into panels of the desired size and thickness. However, some specific production knowledge must be considered in the manufacture of the building material. Marco Ziethen, Swisspearl’s head of production technology, explains us the fabrication process of fiber cement.