From the editorial of issue 1-2/2020:
What's Coming, What's staying?
This current issue of Detail deals with a long-running issue in architecture: the design of facades and the role of windows in the building envelope. In earlier eras, the facade was primarily the face of a building – reflecting its origins in the Latin term “facies”. But in the 20th century, it has become increasingly important as a technically advanced building shell. The basic functions of facades have always remained the same: heat and sun protection, light transmission, air supply and, last but not least, as an image bearer and signifier.
Our projects in this issue show how radically different solutions can be used to fulfil these functions depending on location and building typology. At the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) in Dhahran, Snøhetta’s architects merged roof and facade, windows and a closed building envelope into a filigree work of lines reminiscent of the structures of a fingerprint. With their home in Zurich, Fuhrimann Hächler Architekten celebrate the rugged simplicity of the outer wall construction and the multifunctionality of the metal windows integrated into it. The facade design of the educational facility in Genk by Kempe Thill Architekten is minimalist and expansive, while the school in Orsonnens by Ted’A and Rapin Saiz Architectes is eclectic and playful with echoes of local building traditions. And what could better illustrate the diversity of contemporary facade design than the softly upholstered shell of Petr Hájek’s cultural centre in Prague and the concrete brutalism of OMA’s Norra Tornen residential towers in Stockholm?
In our essay, we examine one of the most momentous innovations in facade design of the last 100 years: the brise-soleil, which since the days of Le Corbusier has shaped many buildings with its dual nature as both a source of shade and a design element. Another innovation, the double glass facade, is presented in a particularly memorable form in our Technology feature. At the new IOC headquarters by 3XN in Lausanne, not only the facade construction, but also parts of the supporting structure follow the building’s undulating shape as its swoops inward and outwards, which is intended to symbolize the dynamic of sports.
Have fun reading – and have a great start to the new decade!
Sandra Hofmeister, Jakob Schoof