Façade contractors are a unique breed. The kind of engineering they apply to a building to create architectural marvels is nothing short of a miracle. We feature 10 outstanding façade and window projects that have become indicators in the city they are in.
BY Jayashree kini mendes
Novelty in buildings are becoming the norm of the day. And the first thing that is obvious in buildings is the façade. This can be applied mainly to commercial buildings (not that residential buildings don’t have façades) because façades account for 15-20% of construction costs. Façades can be constructed around windows, doors, glass, curtainwall and cladding.
All over the world, new building projects are becoming ever-more inventive, innovative and unique. This means façade access solutions need to match today’s most imaginative architecture in order to provide truly bespoke solutions to a wide range of particular architectural challenges.
Façades are also available with textured, architectural weave with curved lines intersecting, turning vertically and narrowing as they reach up the building. The materials are a complex mix of glass curtainwall panels, glass-fibre reinforced concrete (GFRC) and perforated aluminium panels. There are also LED lights embedded into the façade.
This issue looks at some of the fascinating façade projects that are landmarks in their own way in the respective city they are in.
The Sky Tower is a high-rise in South Mumbai with an entrance atrium covered with state-of-the-art canopy. The entrance has high glazing supported off spider bolted fittings & tension rod system. The foyer of the building is glazed with clear vision to achieve the transparency and at night reflect the lavish interiors with tall round cladded tall columns. The 10m entrance glazing is supported by tension rod system with customised design trusses along with mannet fitted doors at foyer. The driveway canopy is supported from two elliptical cladded columns giving an illusion of floating cloud. The tower is glazed with unitised system incorporating an automated motorised parallax window within. The unitised system used is a tested system to 2.75K.P.A. To reduce the glare, the sun cutter was designed at a calculated height on the glazing. The faced glass is laminated DGU for thermal control and acoustics. The parallax window are integrated with technology of wind sensors along with motorisation. On windy days, the wind sensors come in action and shut windows automatically. Another feature is 15m tall crown at the top and is seen from miles. The crown was built with 100 tonnes of steel which posed a challenge in site logistics. Despite this, Glass Wall Systems completed the project ahead of the schedule in record time.
Unitised curtain walling maximises the benefits of building offsite and allows modern methods of construction to be applied to the external envelope. Unitised façades consist of prefabricated units, which are typically the width of a glazing bay and one or two storeys high. The panels are fully glazed and sealed offsite, with gaskets and glazing beads pre-installed in factory-controlled conditions. The complete units are moved for installation onto pre-prepared fixings to either steel or concrete frames. It can be used for technically challenging projects, as well as fast track schemes, new build and refurbishment, and new designs can be developed for more complex and bespoke façades. Unitised façades do not dictate uniformity. For a successful project, it is critical that a building is designed around the façade and not vice versa. The façade specialist should be involved at the early stage to design the building structure that will best accommodate the unitised façade.
Unitised façades offer a number of design options. They can integrate many elements, such as ACP panels, aluminium solid sheet panels, etc., which gives a better method of doing installation and also a better solution for new material to be integrated in the same system. When we see this integration being done in one of our projects, it clearly shows a clean façade and good quality of installation work. This is all possible because of unitised glazing system, which gives all the support to other materials. All line and levels are maintained properly without any issues related to tolerance in civil structure. You can integrate many more other elements in the same system because of its features.
Mumbai is always open to fresh architectural ideas. ZZ Architects suggested a new approach for high-rises. The architect’s idea was to use ample sunlight and earthy elements to develop a warm and nature-based personality with all the trappings of modern day luxuries.
The architect’s vision was a play of light and shade, embellished with natural elements like wood, marble and vertical gardens. The challenge was integrating these elements, within budget and deadlines. For the façade, the architect chose MAX EXTERIOR 0922 Amazon from FunderMax. It fulfilled all the specifications required of the façade. Like the earthy wood finish, robustness to withstand high temperatures and heavy rain and, was easy to install. The Greenfields residential complex reflects close-to-nature character with ample light, airy spaces, greenery and earthy colors. For FunderMax, Greenfields is one of the largest deployments of its façade panels covering a vast swathe of 3,500m2.
The Mango Tree House, is a private residence in Bhopal, India. As the name suggests, this house is built around several large 50-year-old mango trees. The house consists of two major blocks connected through passages. One accommodates private areas such as the living room, bedrooms, kitchen and dining, while the other accommodates formal seating, guest room, studio, gym and swimming pool.
The house plan has been conceived as a solid wall envelope from outside giving privacy to the house. Inside this envelope, all the spaces are designed as pavilions facing trees, where inside becomes outside and vice-versa.
Schüco Aluminium Sliding Systems ASS 50.NI offers a narrow profile face width and optimised for large glass areas, which make walls transparent to enclose spaces, without compromising on the experience of being under the trees. Tall openings, flat ceilings and continuous floor levels further blurs the boundaries of inside and outside. Various passages, staircases and terraces at different floor levels create new vistas and interesting movements around the mango trees.
Resident Architect DSP Design Associates was part of Omkar 1973—an iconic residential skyscraper that stands tall over three basements and 14 parking level podiums. All the three towers are crowned with drum profile penthouses.
The façade design demanded an extreme level of due diligence and precision keeping in mind the wind pressure and high heights, curvatures, interfacing elements and aerodynamic shape of the towers. Glass façades were planned all around the buildings with minimal obstruction to attain spectacular views of the city and the sea. Material choices included low-e glass for unitised full height panels, safety sentry glass for straight handrails, fire rated ACP, stainless steel anchors, microwave cured gaskets with heat soaking done for all tempered glasses as additional safety feature. The full height vision glass is shaded from the sun via the protruding balconies all around the towers.
The project has been well executed through the support of consultants and contractors like Dubai-based Inhabit Façade, Aluplex and Ashbee.
KK Holding executed a façade in Jakarta, Indonesia, for a retail business client, Alfa Mart, having more than 5,000 marts in Indonesian itself. PTI is one of the prominent architects in Jakarta who came up with the idea of LED fins incorporated in the façade for the twin high-rise towers giving a resemblance of barcode which is symbolic for the retail business.
Two technical parameters of this 140m building are the 76 giant panels—the size of each panel is 1350x5575mm, and it is free standing. Considering the wind speed of 1.75kpa KK Holding executed this project flawlessly. The building has wing panels, totalling 248 panels of 2100×4200 mm, which juts out. The task was an onerous one where one had to fix a panel of dead load of 250kg in 158m height against gravity where the potential gradient varies in every metre. A building of 150m height with this kind of feature was a challenge for KK Holding. The second building of 160m is a carved building with 5200 LED fins each with a size of 450x80x4200m. There were several challenges in conceptualising the design and execution. Our design team with Paul Adam Façade Consultant and project team under the leadership of Kapil Shukla, MD & CEO, KK Holding, executed the entire project. The project was completed before the schedule date.
The façade is one of the most critical elements of a well-engineered Grade A office asset and determines the external expression of its architectural intent. Apart from aesthetics, climatic response and sustainability play a critical role in treatment, material selection and engineering. The design of Godrej BKC pushes the boundaries of façade engineering to a new level especially for delivery in the Indian context.
Designed and engineered by New York-based SOM, the external envelope performs well on daylighting, solar shading, minimising heat gain and creating a distinct aesthetic. SOM brought this through collaboration with GPL Design Studio. The delivery involved an intense design and engineering delivered by contractor Alufit. The process involves design and engineering through a collaborative engagement to achieve the final product. The façade, value engineered from tender stage till contractor’s shop drawings are evaluated using both a full-scale visual mockup as well as performance tests.
RMZ Eco World is a 7.5 million sq-ft LEED Gold certified project developed by RMZ Corp and designed by DP architects Singapore as a natural and optimal energy footprint with richly landscaped central sculptures and extensive water features.
The unique aspect of this project is the extensive use of granite and glass; over 30,000m2 of granite with 50,000m2 of glass have been installed in a unitised curtain wall at a height of 50m using Advanced Curtain wall Technology (ACT). The Alufit team was trained in Germany as well as were imparted knowledge at the plant on the use of special undercut anchors which resulted in its successful execution. The use of undercut anchors provides fool-proof granite installation with no possibilities of granite fallouts unlike conventional fixing of dowel pins and MS brackets which has its limitations.
TCS SEZ IT Park Project
Façade design: Meinhardt Façade Technology
Client: TCS Adibatla
TCS Adibatla (SEZ), a techno park in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, project has a built-up area of 4.12 million sq-ft which is extended over an area of 75 acres of land to create a capacity of approximately 25,000 plus employment. The project needed to be constructed in two phases that changed the landmark of the adjacent areas. The infrastructure of this project is divided into two building phases and both phases have been completed.
Meinhardt Façade Technology designed the building’s entire façade design with double skin with planer catwalk for maintenance between two skins and the catwalk acts as a passive sun shade through ventilated gap between two envelopes (Unitised façade system and ventilated dual tone finish perforated screen).The façade design arises as part of the architect building massing to achieve the visual richness and the building performs in keepign with environmental norms and offers energy saving and comfort activity within. The design reflects the comfort level of the working environment.
It’s a passive shading ventilated façade design of blind free architectural concept and its dense occupation reflects the high value comfort working environment and the double skin ventilated façade cuts glare, radiated and direct heat, with required reflectivity (internally and externally) and visible light transmittance design.