Glass

The energy-efficient architecture is not conditioned to a certain image. This is clear in the work of Sauerbruch & Hutton, with a sober but colorful image.

The facade of GAES headquarters in Barcelona is a risky proposal. In filt3rs.net we addressed the behavior of the green filtering elements; here is the time to comment the facade solution as a whole.

The glass facade has always been characterized, among other things, for being supported by an industry capable of ensuring its continuous development and evolution to be adapted to new functional and formal requirements. A fact that is unquestionably a value, has the counterpart of a relatively fast obsolescence of the facades that results in the need to replace them quite frequently.

In the Beethoven Building in Barcelona, the replacement of the facade clearly renews the image of the building while maintaining the idea of continuous glass enclosure and the original cutting. Different materials and characteristics of both the glass and the profiles, but above all, it is the strong rhythm conferred by the mullions covers and the couples of exempt profiles when projecting outwards that permit this renewed image.

This use of the double skin facade where the outer glass is patterned with a white serigraphy that gradually dilutes as one gets closer to the areas of vision may disappear as rapidly as it has spread. It is an easy way to blur the openings limits. In the case of this hotel in London, the opening is perfectly well defined on the wall in the interior skin. This technique harks back to the effect of traditional interior thin white curtains, except for the important difference that the curtain can be used to cover the openings with a very efficient light diffuser.

The extension of the Faculty of Law of the University of Barcelona is one of these risky interventions: erecting 16,000 m2 next to a jewel of rationalist architecture of smaller size, about 12,000 m2; being the plot of the new construction of a dimension considerably smaller than that of the historic building. We do not aim here to value the architectural intervention, simply mentioning that the recourse to neutrality is perfectly understandable.

The Inbisa Tower case study permits us highlighting those subtle design strategies that make a building with four apparently identical facades be so suggestive.

The unfinished Plaça d’Europa project arises from a contradiction. The objective was to provide the city of Barcelona with a more representative entrance from the airport, with towers that appear to be of tertiary use. And we say “appear to be” because many of these towers were in fact designed for residential use. 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 loss with the concrete wall (thermal inertia), while minimizing the thermal difference between the two sides of this wall with a closed air cavity on its outer side. This closed air cavity has its thermal insulation improved by a reflective membrane coating one of its sides. Thermal gain in summer is controlled by the reflective capacity of the white serigraphy in the glass and, again, the reflective membrane.

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.