IGS looks at projects and architects that have used the idea of permeable facades to their advantage. Not only do these facades create natural light, ventilation and a feeling of openness, but they are also an aesthetically pleasing option for their exterior finishes. Take a look at these projects from around the world…
1. Guardian Art Center in Beijing | Büro Ole Scheeren
The building’s facades take on a specific role in its cultural expression and Chinese integration: Materiality, color, and texture establish abstract and subtle correspondence with Chinese symbols and meaning. The upper ring of the hotel is made of floating, over-sized glass bricks, resonating with the textures of the adjacent hutongs and courtyard houses. In contrast to the imperial motives of the nearby Forbidden City, the brick represents civil society and values – a humble and non-elitist symbol in Chinese culture. The grey stone-like pixels of the lower portion of the building are perforated by several thousand circular openings – generated by projecting one of China’s most important historic landscape paintings, Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains, onto its facades and thereby creating a subtle light filter through an abstracted landscape silhouette.
Architect: Buro Ole Scheeren
Project: Guardian Art Center
Location: No.1 Wangfujng Street, Beijing, China
Site Area: approx. 6,320 m2
Text via Buro Ole Scheeren
2. The Modern Village Office | Ho Khue Architects
The Office has feeling and is environmentally sustainable, as were the villages of the past. Originally the large lot contained some old houses, white pampas grass, native bamboo shrubs, and plants that survived on the ambient conditions with little input from people. Ho Khue Architects (ALPES) design concept was to evoke the old feeling of the village in their state of the art modern office as being part of nature. Today’s appearance is soothing, natural, and contains many of the surrounding native plants in the structure. Banana Trees, yellow bushes and native plants were transplanted to the first floor of the office. There is also a water feature with slat steps at the front door with harvested plants. The southwest exposure is built with decorative concrete and slats to keep out the hot sun and allow air flow from the ocean breezes. Vining flowering plants surround the open areas to create shade and beauty. It is a professional place with natural ventilation, pleasing plantings, and comfortable environment for clients and workers.
Architect: Ho Khue Architects
Project: The Modern Village Office
Location: 297 Ngo Quyen Street, An Hai Bac Ward, Son Tra District, Danang City, An Hải Bắc, Sơn Trà, Đà Nẵng, Vietnam
Site Area: approx. 350.0 m2
Text via Ho Khue Architects
3. Magnolia Mound Visitors Center | Trahan Architects
Situated on high ground adjacent to the Mississippi River, Magnolia Mound was a working plantation established in 1791. Today, Magnolia Mound’s mission is to illustrate and interpret the French Creole lifestyle through educational programs, workshops, lectures, festivals and other special events. To reinforce this immersive experience, the design intent is to emphasize the importance of site and topography as it relates to Magnolia Mound. The design seeks to establish a clear and visible threshold for visitors as they circulate around the base of the mound. As one transitions through the new visitor center and ascends to the top of the mound, the new visitor center merges with the landscape to become unobtrusive and imperceptible. Opacity, translucency and transparency are used to prioritize and frame the visitor’s experience as one transitions from a contemporary experience to a historic or period experience. The new visitor center seeks to elevate the existing historic buildings and site through a minimal architectural intervention which will provide a clear threshold for visitors at Magnolia Mound.
Architect: Trahan Architects
Project: Magnolia Mound Visitors Center
Location: 2040 Iowa St, Baton Rouge, LA 70802, United States
Site Area: 4000.0 ft2
Text via Trahan Architects
4. The Lantern | VTN Architects
Located within Dong Da district, Hanoi, the newly constructed gallery and lighting showroom uses a perforated terracotta façade to create a simple yet significant impact on the surrounding landscape. The gallery is located on the top floor overlooking a large neighbouring tree, while the slit skylights expose the roof garden. This offers a space for architects and design professionals to interact. Upon entering the building, visitors are greeted with a large void. The showroom is carefully planned around the void to allow visitors to view the exhibited product at a glance from the central staircase. The terracotta blocks were traditionally used in Vietnam before air-conditioning. Designed for tropical climates, they allow for passive ventilation and shade from harsh sunlight.The existing site proposed interesting design challenges, such as the typically small inner-city site at 72 sqm, adjacent tree and busy streetscape. The foliage overshadows the site, making it difficult for pedestrians to recognise the building from the main road. However, this scenario presented a unique opportunity to consider the existing tree and distracting context whilst maximising the usable space. This building provides a delicate backdrop to the ever-changing tree. During the day shadows are cast upon the clean façade, bringing it to life. In the evening the building is illuminated from within, acting as a lantern in the city.
Architect: VTN Architects
Project: The Lantern
Location: 83 Duong Lang Street, Dong Da District, Hanoi, Vietnam
Site Area: 72 m2
Text via VTN Architects
5. Santa Fe de Bogotá Foundation | El Equipo de Mazzanti
Fundacion Santa Fe de Bogota hospital expansion has been a challenge because more than being a building, it has to connect at an urban level, it has to merge with the existent part and project itself for future space requirements. The façade uses the brick in extension and not in compression as we are used to. It uses metallic parts and cables that support the brick as a fabric. This allows us to have different patterns and textures giving the opportunity to have several natural lighting uses depending on the needs. That is why we can have more natural lighting which helps the patient’s recovery. The solarium is a space that tries to recover the garden hospital concept, in which we look forward for the patient to have contact with the city reducing stress and confinement conditions.As well the solarium allows patients to have contact with nature through protected cubicles or directly to the patio. Light conditions, spatiality and nature have allowed that in the last 6 months as the statistics show a reduction in recovery time, infections and medical complications.
Architect: El Equipo de Mazzanti
Project: Santa Fe de Bogotá Foundation
Location: Bogota, Colombia
Site Area: 32.000 sqm
Text via El Equipo de Mazzanti
6. Optical Glass House | Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP
This house is sited among tall buildings in downtown Hiroshima, overlooking a street with many passing cars and trams. To obtain privacy and tranquility in these surroundings, we placed a garden and optical glass façade on the street side of the house. The garden is visible from all rooms, and the serene soundless scenery of the passing cars and trams imparts richness to life in the house. Sunlight from the east, refracting through the glass, creates beautiful light patterns. Rain striking the water-basin skylight manifests water patterns on the entrance floor. Filtered light through the garden trees flickers on the living room floor, and a super lightweight curtain of sputter-coated metal dances in the wind. Although located downtown in a city, the house enables residents to enjoy the changing light and city moods, as the day passes, and live in awareness of the changing seasons.
An optical façade of some 6,000 pure-glass blocks (50mm x 235mm x 50mm) was employed. The pure-glass blocks, with their large mass-per-unit area, effectively shut out sound and enable the creation of an open, clearly articulated garden that admits the city scenery. To realize such a façade, glass casting was employed to produce glass of extremely high transparency from borosilicate, the raw material for optical glass. The casting process was exceedingly difficult, for it required both slow cooling to remove residual stress from within the glass, and high dimensional accuracy. Even then, however, the glass retained micro-level surface asperities, but we actively welcomed this effect, for it would produce unexpected optical illusions in the interior space.
Architect: Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP
Project: Optical Glass House
Location: Hiroshima, Japan
Site Area: 385.0 m2
Text via Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP
7. Bima Microlibrary | SHAU Bandung
The Microlibrary is located at Taman Bima, Bima Street in Bandung in a small square in a Kampung neighborhood near the airport. The neighborhood consists of middle class housing on one side and a Kampung (village) like structure on the other, where less affluent people live. The Taman Bima Microlibrary is the first realized prototype of a series of small libraries in different locations throughout Indonesia, which we intend to build.
The building is constructed via a simple steel structure made from I-beams and concrete slabs for floor and roof. The stage was reworked in concrete and a previously missing, wide stair was added. As the building is located in a tropical climate, we aimed to create a pleasant indoor climate without the use of air conditioning. Therefore, we looked for available façade materials in the neighborhood that were cost efficient, could shade the interior, let daylight pass and enable enough cross ventilation. Initially, we found several small vendors selling used, white and translucent jerry cans. However, prior to construction the jerry cans were no longer available in the quantities we required. Instead, we found used plastic ice cream buckets that were being sold in bulk. This turned out for the better as they have a more positive image and are more stable when cutting the bottom open for cross ventilation.
Architect: SHAU Bandung
Project: Bima Microlibrary
Location: Dompet Dhuafa, City of Bandung
Site Area: 160.0 sqm
Text via SHAU Bandung
8. Emiliano RJ / Studio Arthur Casas + Oppenheim Architecture
The Emiliano hotel arrives at Rio de Janeiro, and like the one from São Paulo, it bares the signature of Studio Arthur Casas – the preliminary framework of the project has co-authoring of the American architect Chad Oppenheim. The contemporary architecture of the building, located in front of Copacabana beach, gives priority to natural light, valorizes the view and connects the guests to the Marvelous city. To meet the client’s expectations established in their briefing asking for a project that could satisfy the standards of a five-star hotel whose ground floor could be enjoyed by clients who were or were not guests, a bar was installed right at the entrance. Then, the flow of people was redirected in two different ways: one takes to the restaurant or to the business center and the other to reception, with a private area for guests.
Studio Arthur Casas created a skin-like surface for the building, a perforated design typical of Brazilian architecture, which breaks through the continuity of the concrete blocks that dot the buildings along the coast. The fiberglass panels of the facade give rise to various visual configurations. Even when the panels are closed, light and the breeze can still flow through, ensuring guests both privacy and a sea view.