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“We Should Look to Vernacular Traditions for Answers to Create the Right Façades”

By: Ar. Vijaya Bhargav, Ostraca

The façade has always been one of the most important elements of architectural design throughout history. This aspect of architecture arguably reflects, most closely, the culture, socio-political scenario, climatic conditions, and technological prowess of the era in which it existed.

Façade of an apartment complex - biophilia
Façade of an apartment complex – biophilia has been incorporated with self-sustainable systems. This takes care of the maintenance challenges and also ensures uniformity and consistency of the building façade

To us, we see the façade as a sieve that filters the outdoor elements into the interior space. To the interiors, it presents curated views, and controls the external elements of light heat cold and rain. And most importantly, it presents the architectural statement to the surrounding environment.

Today, technologically, the industry has reached a point where anything that can be imagined can be translated into reality. Unfortunately, though we are also building at scales never seen before in human history and this is taking an irreversible toll on our environment. Cement, steel, and glass have continued to be the most common materials used for façades in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Façade of the co-living project
Façade of the co-living project: Façade elements have been designed to address the passive solar designs

Façades present an opportunity for naturally controlling the amount of energy being used to operate a building. With emerging technologies, we can now adopt high-tech responsive/adaptive façades that are designed to physically change shape to provide optimal heat/ light ingress into buildings. We also have self-cleaning façades that maintain themselves over time.

Mycelium façades, while in a prototype stage today, present the possibility of buildings without the use of cement and steel in the near future. This change would be the largest step towards a greener environment as far as building technologies go. Finally, while technologies are available, they also come at a cost, which is unaffordable in most projects.

Cost-effective façade made out of Ferro cement blocks for a school
Cost-effective façade made out of Ferro cement blocks for a school

As designers, we believe that we should look to vernacular traditions for answers to create the right façades with local materials and methods that provide natural cooling and ventilation that provide good habitable spaces with the least impact on the environment.

Ar. Vijaya Bhargav, Ostraca

Co-Founder & Partner

Ar. Vijaya Bhargav is a Co-Founder & Partner at Ostraca - An architecture and interior design firm in Bangalore.

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