Architecture: Ideas for walls and façades (2)

(October 2010) Villa Saitan in Japan’s Kyoto is designed to mime the foliage of a tree. This is a housing complex comprised of eleven apartments spread over several floors but resembling a single house optically. The exterior is clad in Brazilian Granite Giallo Cecilia.

The design is exciting not only for the beholder. Planners of Eastern Design Office were pushed to their creative limit: many an unconventional solution on the interior was necessitated by the unique façade. Tenants, too, must rethink their conventional concepts e.g. with respect to balconies resembling slits. The entrance is also unconventional: the ground floor includes a passage between parallel side streets from which the apartments are accessed – a concept meant to fuse dwellers’ feeling of togetherness.

Eastern Design Office

„The large stone edifice seems to have sprouted from the Spanish earth“ according to the Dutch architects in respect to their Centro de Negocios y Convenciones (a congress and theatre centre) in the Spanish city of Lleida. Conversely many may perceive the complex as a UFO: the ground and first floor jut into the plaza, creating a large covered area. The first floor is surrounded by a glass front allowing for a magnificent view. The level roof is interrupted by the stage tower and provides a garden surface.

The façade is covered in a pixel-pattern made of „Morisca Oro“ slate by the Spanish-based Samaca Company. The floors are made of marble but the piece-de-resistance is the theatre seating 1000. The walls are clad in dark wood into which a converse relief of tree-patterns was carved. The back-ground lighting is meant to give it the appearance of an orchard according to Delft-based Mecanoo Architects.

Berlin’s Humboldt University has a new central library whose limestone façade alludes to what the interior has to offer: narrow windows where bookshelves stand. Light, after all, as vitally important as it is for all living things, is the death of books – and wide, generous windows where the studious can enjoy a splendid view of the city from the interior of the library. A similar idea was implemented by architect Max Dudler for a church library in Münster.

Architect: Max Dudler

Stone by Hofmann Company

As if to hide, Casa Cuatro on Chile’s Pacific coast is separated from the inland by a high wall clad in ashlar. This gives the house a touch of the wild fitting to the raging sea. The wall also has a static function: the 2-story-high building, spread across 140 m² leans on it, as it consists of lightweight timber frame needing the support. The wall also provides insulation. The house is built in an isolated area, local materials were used. The slate used for the wall is available in ample quantity along Chile’s coast and withstands the salty air.

Architects were foster bernal Arquitectos.

Stone was provided by Piedras Almarza Company (Mail).

The Dimensions are out of the ordinary: The travertine-Façade-Elements of the E-Science Lab HIT in Zurich are up to 3,65 m high and weigh 690 kg. That not only means that 4 m-long raw blocks were needed or that special apparatus had to be developed to install them by crane.

Exactly 717 of these elements, 90 cm wide and 7 cm thick were mounted in front of the glass panes of this six story science building. They are not only decorative in nature but provide the outer skin of the building. The construction won this year’s Austrian National Prize for sustainability and low energy housing.

Architecture by the Austrian Baumschlager + Eberle

One common challenge for architects is to integrate a building in the surrounding area. In the case of Petter Dass Museum, Norway’s Snøhetta – award winning for their solution of the Oslo Opera House in Carrara marble, the challenge was taken literally. This time the architects cut a piece out of the flat rock and placed the museum inside. The building is slightly narrower than the cut-out, so visitors can navigate around the building and feel the smooth granite rock wall.

Cut-outs of this type are often used for building in Norway as many rounded rocks are available over long distances. They came to be as the glaciers honed the rock while transporting the ice masses more than 2 km high across the land!

Petter Dass is one of Norway’s most renowned poets. He lived from 1689 until 1707 and also worked as a minister. As an homage the land chosen, exposes the tiny church in which he worked. On the other side a bay extends as far as the eye can see – a lovely panorama view. The Museum is in Alstahaug.