Contemporary

The building that MAP Architects did in Borneo dock, Amsterdam, solves the envelopes in a very appropriate way at all scales.

As rapidly as it has spread may disappear this resource to the double skin facade where the outer glass is patterned with a white serigraphy that gradually dilutes as it gets closer to the vision areas. It is an easy resource to blur the openings limits. An opening that, in the case of this hotel in London, is perfectly well defined over the wall in the interior skin.

What is hidden behind this ceramic tiles cladding with brick shape? A thermal insulation material fixed over a real brick wall. The cladding, far from trying to cheat us, exhibits its not even self-bearing condition by resorting to a peculiar “rigging”. ETICS façade systems allow many other finishing materials besides renderings, it’s only a matter of weight, flexibility and adherence.

The new building for Dexeus Institute in Barcelona is one of these cases where openings completely divide the façade in horizontal strips. This leads not to have the façade mechanically interrupted by the main structure but by the openings. In each floor, while the parapet – maid of reinforced brickwork- is supported on the slab and stabilized against horizontal loads fixed to the pillars; the wall above the window hangs inserted in a steel structure from its upper slab. The openings horizontal strip need to admit possible differential movements of each part of the façade.

The unfinished Plaza Europa project rises from a contradiction. The objective was to provide the city of Barcelona with a more representative entrance from the airport, with towers looking like being of tertiary use. And we say “looking like” as the program of many of those towers was in fact residential. This contradiction justifies the façade solution adopted in these towers.

The façade of the Renaissance hotel in l’Hospitalet has a peculiar thermal behaviour. It is based on retarding thermal loses with the concrete wall –thermal inertia- while minimizing the thermal leap between the two sides of this wall with a closed air cavity at its outer side. This closed air cavity has its thermal insulation improved by a reflective membrane coating one of its sides. Thermal gains in summer are controlled by the reflective capacity of the white serigraphy in the glass and, again, the reflective membrane.

The hotel Omm facade seems to us an interesting study case in many aspects. On the one hand the wise strategy that leads to orientate the openings towards the main avenue –Passeig the Gràcia- avoiding prying eyes from the building in the opposite side of the street, as well as direct sun gains. On the second hand the risky materialization of the above mentioned strategy, transforming the outer layer of a rain screen façade into a series of light weight walls that emerge from the façade as fish scales.

Glass: lightness, transparency; that is the message the façade of this police headquarters building wants to give. And it achieves to do it even though the façade is nor light, neither transparent. Resorting to the horizontal serigraphy combined with the thin eaves projecting shadow over the façade contributes an image of dynamism typical of an inhabited interior. If we take a deeper look we will see the glass is quite reflective and the eaves are randomly distributed even in the opaque area of the façade. 

In IEP, the courtyard and the interior office space are perceived as a continuum. This close relationship between inner and outer spaces is one of the most interesting aspect of the building. The facade solution is the necessary resource to achieve it. This glass enclosure is freed from any structure just by making the glass work like plates resting on two supports instead of four.

The facade that closes the south face of the tower seems from the outside as a simple stick curtain wall of little interest, if it was not for the fact of being photovoltaic. However, we have dedicated it a section here given the uniqueness of the space it contains and the abstraction in its design that this allows. This curtain wall is the enclosure of the elevator core and, therefore, is devoid of many of the requirements of a facade.