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More than just looks


When buildings in India started being being built with façades, they took the viewers’ breath away. Today, they are pretty common lace. However, architects and developers are taking recourse to new types of façade s that stand out amid the concrete jungle. Construction Week India takes a look some of the innovations in façade and consider those that offer visual appeal and the kinds of materials that make the façade sensible.



Adobe Headquarters

It is not surprising that a company responsible for transforming everything into a thing of beauty has an office that justifies the product – Adobe Photoshop. The architects, Spazzio, have let it go with the colours, making it one of India’s most colourful buildings. A large monochromatic building block in dark granite and glass is relieved by juxtaposing fluid planes in primary colours that appear to ‘dance’ as they weave in and out of the rigid plane at various levels and varying heights. The conscious choice of granite and multi-coloured composite aluminium panels with insulated glazing for the building skin has made it energy efficient, durable and low on maintenance. This vivid use of colours follows through in the interior spaces in a palette of Turkey red, marigold yellow, deep purple, bright blues and fuchsia that helps create a casual and good-humoured space.


GYS Vision

This project has an interesting façade in terms of glass and other materials deployed. It is one of the tallest commercial building in NCR, standing tall at a height of around 120m. It has installed unitised glazed panels of glass in form of stacks of four floors each and another element of porcelain tile cladding installed in between the stacks of glazed panels on MS structure as cantilevered façade. The façades focus on reducing the solar gain while providing maximum views from the office floors. Their service cores act as thermal buffers to provide protection against the harsh sun from the south-west.
It was a challenging project for Belgium Aluminium and Glass in terms of execution and also a prestigious one in terms of façade execution.

I-Flex Solutions

I-Flex Solutions asked DSP Design Associates to design a campus in Bengaluru to accommodate 1,500 employees. The façades are all in clear glass, allowing the landscaped exteriors to become an extension of the interior spaces, so that one is constantly in visual contact with nature. While the development block is a three-sided building with a glass façade of point-fixed glazing, the corporate block is like a structural icon built with stay-cable technology.
The building is wrapped in frameless clear glass made of spider fixtures and steel rods. It is left exposed on the exterior and supported on slender, spaced out castellated columns. Striking is the way the façade curves in plan as well as in elevation, complemented by the system of glazing adopted from the skin’s structure. Going up to six storeys with an expanding floor plate, the structure evokes the profile of a ship.

Mondeal Square
With an aim to deliver an architectural landmark, the Indian segment of Blocher Blocher Partners, based in Germany, designed the Mondeal Square. The complex is a 14-storeyed structure with a concave façade that covers 5,300 sq-m and was designed to develop a textured façade skin responding to the environment by reflecting daylight and displaying its enigmatic nature at night with integrated lighting.
It addresses the abundance of sunlight, and the vertical struts and horizontal panes made of white aluminium profiles, serve also for shade. The tectonic contrast between solidity and lightness is sharpened by the rippling efficacy of its façade.

Motilal Oswal Headquarters
Covering 300,000 sq-ft, the Motilal Oswal headquarters has a contemporary façade design. Complete with energy-efficient features the financial services giants used 10,000 sq-ft of glass for this façade design. The main structure is fabricated of conventional composite floor plates with surrounding steel construct. A striking feature is its scintillating glass facade illuminated with LED stripes.
The material deployed for the skin is a special solar-control glass termed as KT 440 – Nano Green glass by Saint Gobain. It is a high-performance glass with a low solar factor, and high thermal insulation; this helps maintain the energy efficiency of the building.
Laminated solar control glass is used for skylights. One of the most interesting spaces is the mid-air sky lounge that starts from eight floor and goes up to the thirteenth floor of the building. The space enables its employees to indulge in an incredible 180-degree view of the sky and sea.

Navodaya Education Trust
This is a project of an educational institution in Raichur. It’s a double skin façade with inclined louvre system, an independent one without any support of the façade glazing. The project underwent much engineering to ensure that it imparted the look which the architect had conceived. The project used FunderMax’s Duromer high pressure laminates (HPL) in accordance with EN 438 type EDF. The protection consists of double-hardened acrylic polyurethane resins. The panels are labeled with the CE-Mark necessary for their use in building applications for exteriors. FunderMax used an exclusive surface technology, NT (non-fading high performance acrylic polyurethane surface technology) which is patented and adds to the durability and sustainability. The installation of the panels was a humongous task. Maintenance of the degree of inclination of the fins and the inclination of the MS structure at a particular angle along with the sub-structure throughout the building as per the design was Herculean.

The Newton School
Abin Design Studio undertook the façade, interiors and landscape design and architectural intervention. The locality is planned in a radial grid and the site for the school is curved along the longer edges. Graphical representations of symbols, alphabets and numbers became an inspiration for the screen. About 488 panels, made of fibre-reinforced plastic (FRP) measuring 3.2 x 3.2 metres envelop each of the two academic blocks. About 13 different panels were designed with a combination of small and large alphabets, numbers and symbols. These have been placed in various orientations to achieve a randomised effect on the façade. Structural slabs were projected beyond the building surface all around in a way such that an exact number of panels would fit on all surfaces on the symmetrical cuboids. This also enabled simpler servicing of the panels and ensured a better light quality for the building.

Pearl Academy of Fashion
The building uses traditional Rajasthani motifs including a ‘jaali’ pierced stone screen in an open courtyard. It features passive cooling techniques to combat the desert climate. The architecture of the academy needed to be a confluence of modern adaptations of traditional Indo-Islamic architectural elements prevalent in the hot-dry desert climate of Rajasthan such as open courtyards, water body, a step-well or baoli and jaalis (perforated stone screen).
The building is protected from the environment by a double skin which is derived from a traditional building element, which is prevalent in Rajasthani architecture. The double skin acts as a thermal buffer between the building and the surroundings. The density of the perforated outer skin has been derived using computational shadow analysis based on orientation of the façades.

South Asian Human Rights Documentation Centre

The office for SAHRDC was designed on a 50 sq-m corner plot. Single consolidated volumes were created on each floor, and flexibly partitioned. Each volume is serviced by a buffer bay which shields internal work spaces and is composed of a cantilevered staircase and toilet stack. The porosity of the external wall ensures that this bay is well ventilated. A single repeating brick module creates a visually complex pattern reminiscent of traditional South Asian brise-soleil. It was crucial for the façade to converse with the bustle on the street, whilst being fortified. The porosity of the wall, thus, maintains a degree of privacy while playfully engaging with the street corner. A six brick module is laid in staggered courses that create twirling vertical stacks and an undulating surface.
The orientation of the site is such that the longer 10m side is exposed to direct sun throughout the day. Reducing the resulting solar thermal gain was an important design generator.

TCS, Hyderabad

This project is located in a district in Hyderabad. The underlying intention of the design for the TCS offices is to present a monolithic element hollowed out on the inside and open towards the city. As a single volume, the construction enhances the features of the site, accentuating the existing landform and making it an integral part of the construction. For example, the excavated material provided the stone that was used for the paving and for the wall enclosing the property. The cylindrical volume thus breaks up where the mountainous layout changes direction, and it acts as a pivot on a territorial scale by fitting into the new skyline of High Tech City.
The uniform treatment of the surfaces using red Agra stone reflects the intention of this new construction to make a statement. The wide, deep vertical slashes that modulate the façade permit large windowed surfaces, thereby letting natural light into the interior spaces. At the same time, they also provide necessary protection and guarantee insulation from harsh weather conditions.
Massing has been done to maximise the mutual shading. Each wedge acts as a sun barrier for the other thus reducing the heat intake of the building significantly, leading to savings in air-conditioning and electricity costs.

The Digit
With its red, perforated aluminum ‘rain screen’ and elongated oval shape, this quirky office building in New Delhi was intended to resemble a thumbprint. Designed by Anagram Architects, The Digit building has a swirling ceiling in the lobby that evokes a thumbprint, and, according to the architects, a façade with “the split second impact of a roadside billboard.” In the holes of the building’s face are tiny, colorful pixels that rotate as the wind blows. The overall effect is probably meant to resemble an artisanal LED screen. The semi-elliptical cylindrical volume creates linear voids that stretch along the length of the building, infusing the workspaces with natural light diffused through a skin of louvres. The glazing on this façade is protected by a red aluminium perforated screen.

The Park

A breathtaking creation by Skidmore Owings & Merrill, this 5-star hotel is a modern day work of art. With a stunning facade and inspirations from the culture of Hyderabad, this property is chiseled to perfection. The perforated metal exterior has been inspired by the ‘Jalis’ of old Indian palaces, while the naturally illuminated, luxurious interiors reflect traditions of craftsmanship.
The building’s three sides wrap an elevated courtyard that can be accessed from the hotel lobby. This outdoor area is protected from strong winds. The façade provides a range of transparency according to the needs of the spaces inside. Perforated and embossed metal screens over a high-performance glazing system give privacy to the hotel rooms while allowing diffused daylight to enter the interior spaces and provides acoustic insulation from trains passing nearby.


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