Contemporary

This hotel in Barcelona illustrates the typological confusion of contemporary façade systems and justifies the need for a taxonomic tool such as the one organised by this platform.

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.

What is hidden behind this ceramic tile cladding in the form of bricks? A thermal insulation material fixed over a real brick wall. The cladding, far from trying to cheat us, exhibits the fact that it is not even self-bearing thanks to a peculiar “rigging”. The ETICS façade systems allow many other finishing materials in addition to renderings. It is only a matter of weight, flexibility and adherence.

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 new building for the Dexeus Institute in Barcelona is one of the cases in which the openings completely divide the façade into horizontal strips. The façade is thus not mechanically interrupted by the main structure but by the openings. On each floor, the parapet made of reinforced brickwork is supported on the slab and stabilized against horizontal loads fixed to the pillars, while the wall above the window hangs inserted in a steel structure from its upper slab. The horizontal strip of openings needs to allow for differential movements of each part of the façade.

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.

The Hotel Omm facade seems to us an interesting case study in many regards. It was a wise strategy to orient the openings towards the main avenue, Passeig de Gràcia, thus avoiding prying eyes from the building on the opposite side of the street as well as direct solar gain. Also, the bold materialization of this strategy involved transforming the outer layer of a rain screen façade into a series of lightweight 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.