post detail page top

Sudhakar Windows and Doors

Designing Façade Profiles

By: Ar. Sushant Verma, rat[LAB]- Research in Architecture and Technology

At rat[LAB], façade design is envisioned as a vital part of a project and approached through analytical study of multiple parameters like privacy, materials and environmental factors like sunlight, from which the outcome emerges. Parametric façades further utilise responsive design to adapt to site conditions by exploring complex geometries, digital fabrication and other cutting-edge technologies.

Head field office design iterations
Figure 2: Head field office | design iterations

Some of the studio’s recent projects showcase how architecture can be influenced by technology, sustainability and creative design thinking in this regard. While the integration of advanced technology and captivating aesthetics set these projects apart, it is important to understand and perceive the design processes behind different design problems that generated explicit solutions. This article on façade profiles is yet another illustration of how creative design is the result of implicit research and intelligent integration.

Head field office blow up of façade elements
Figure 3: Head field office | blow up of façade elements

The architectural industry is witnessing a substantial shift in methodology and expression as technology and computational tools are becoming more accessible and more utilised. Making use of the best materials and complex geometry together with the aid of machines and computational tools, it is now possible to unique, captivating façade profiles.

The Headfield office in Noida by rat[LAB] studio is a visionary office project design featuring a parametric façade with adaptive vertical fins made from aluminium composite panels. The dynamic façade transforms with natural light to regulate temperature and lighting within the workspace while also preserving privacy. One of the first projects with a parametric façade to be actually realised, the energy-efficient shifting façade with its captivating intertwining arches is also an attempt to establish a higher standard for innovation and aesthetics in office design.

Head Field office elevation detail
Figure 4: Head Field office | elevation detail

Different forms and connections were designed and tested for efficiency and aesthetics. A curvilinear interlinking of fins, lateral screens of wedged flat plates and mild variable screening were studied. The final outcome combines the effective attributes in these studies to create a unique, easy-to-construct, sustainable solution.

Head field office construction process
Figure 5: Head field office | Construction process

A parametric façade with vertical fins blending seamlessly to form arches, the fluid-structure maintains interior-exterior visibility and has definitive construction modularity. As the adaptable façade transforms with natural light, it renders a captivating visual interplay between the outer environment and the office interiors. The dynamic vertical fins respond intelligently to the sun’s path to create a warm and vibrant ambience within the workspace.

The façade is a symphony of linear geometries that generates a play of light and shadow within the background. Starting from a flat canopy, five catenary arches curve upwards on the first floor and from the centre a bold axis up to the top of the structure. Spaces between these five primary units are filled uniformly by slender fins made of mild steel creating a receptive screening for the remaining upper walls.

Head field office lighting variables
Figure 6: Head field office | lighting variables

The fabrication involves a mild steel skeleton for the arches and the fins bolted to the main structure via anchoring bolts that hold the façade elements tightly in place and takes the load of the façade elements onto the main structure. The curvilinear skeleton of the arches is covered with aluminium composite panels while the fins are given a glazed coating that aligns with the shining quality of the entire façade.

Differential lighting is an auxiliary dynamic feature provided within the linear system. Eight combinations of two lighting fixtures varying between fins and arches are provided as each can generate diverging highlights to meet the varied preferences of the client. The rope lights on the fins are white, 4000Kelvin while those around the arches are 3000Kelvin. An additional uplighter from the canopy of 3000Kelvin is also added to the foot of the arches to light.

Akaya one
Figure 7: Akaya one |exterior view and Figure 8: Akaya one | metal ‘A’

The façade design is often restricted as an added second screen to an already constructed structure. An integral part of a building as the transition zone between the internal and external environments, a façade can also be integrated into the base structure of the mass. The Akaya One in Gurgaon is a landmark building as a high-rise structure with its bold fusion of glass and metal elements located at a crossroads. The façade of this structure therefore demands to be a visual masterwork that needs to address the rising concern for energy efficiency while also delivering incredible panoramic views to the exterior. The metal ‘A’ façade marks the focus with its bold contrast to the otherwise transparent wall without compromising views of the exterior. Akaya is a high-standing symbol of synergy between architecture and technology standing tall in the city of New Delhi that utilises minimum façade elements to achieve a direct statement.

Akaya one Views from the stree
Figure 9: Akaya one | Views from the street

In an upcoming office project in Patel Nagar, rat[LAB] studio explores parametricism with computational design to craft a responsive façade for a business office. Concerns about construction, budget and materiality are resolved by employing lightweight metal with fibreglass infusion. Like in the Headfield office, a grid of mild steel attaches the façade to the main structure at beam levels. Here, a sleek framework forms the backbone of the façade design with non-uniform widths as informed by computational analysis. Fibreglass brings in natural light and together with the dynamic façade screening, a creative atmosphere is crafted meticulously within the interiors.

Patel nagar office
Figure 10: Patel nagar office | elevation render and Figure 15: Patel nagar office | pointed archway entrance

Precise mathematical parameters dictate the form and arrangement of each aluminium panel to formulate a system that responds adaptively to the environment and helps the structure gain more energy efficiency and sustainability. Radiation analysis on a vertical scale and floor-based data of incident radiation inform the geometric limits.

Patel nagar office radiation analysis, vertical plane
Figure 11: Patel nagar office | radiation analysis, vertical plane and Figure 12: Radiation analysis, floor-based

Approached by a double-height pointed archway, the verticality of the overall design exudes a quality of grandeur and professional ambience. As a coherent unit, this project aims at redefining the conventional notions of a building envelope and portraying the efficiency of computational analysis to create adaptive habitable environments.

Patel nagar office
Figure 13: Patel nagar office | view from the street and Figure 14: Patel nagar office | blow up of façade elements

In residential projects, façade can be misunderstood as elemental additions but contemporary designs foster progressive design of both exteriors and interiors. The Sonipat Residence in Haryana is such a project that aims to transform the lifestyle of a suburban family. Adorned with loud angular lines and textured materials, the volume surpasses all traditional ideas of a habitation.

Figure 16: Sonipat residence | view from the street and Figure 17: Sonipat residence | angular planning
Sonipat residence exterior
Figure 19: Sonipat residence | exterior and Figure 20: Sonipat residence | top view

In a linear site, the layout responds in an angular fashion that aids in gathering more volume for the interiors. Double-height rooms, light wells and an adjacent courtyard give a quality of warmth and dynamism while the twenty-five feet tall contemporary colonnade renders a grandeur bungalow on the exterior. The concrete faceted wedges in the façade screen the overall mass while also representing the angles on a vertical scale.

It is through an understanding of elemental design and analysis that an architect becomes well-informed to craft explicit design solutions specific to each project and its context. Façade design which is often considered a separate additive feature needs to be understood as a vital feature of a structure as it is where its volume meets the transition of interior to exterior and vice versa. Attention to design and detailing of such transitions is one primary aspect of sustainability and responsible architecture.

Ar. Sushant Verma, rat[LAB]- Research in Architecture and Technology

Co-Founder

Sushant Jai-Amita Verma is a Design Entrepreneur, Architect, Computational Designer & Educator, currently leading rat[LAB] Studio (Research in Architecture and Technology) (www.rat-lab.org) that investigates intersections of design, art & technology through architecture, interior design and art installations. He holds a Masters Degree in Emergent Technologies & Design from Architectural Association, London and is a former architect at Zaha Hadid Architects, London & a Sr. Editor at Arch2O. He is the founder of rat[LAB] EDUCATION, which is an initiative to spread the idea of computation in design through independently organised design workshops for the profession and academia. Recipient of MAK Schindler Award from Vienna / Los Angeles and a finalist for the AIA Emerging Leaders Fellowship from Chicago, his work is widely published and exhibited in London, Los Angeles, New York, Tokyo, San Francisco, Taipei, New Delhi, and Mumbai among other places.

home page below category

Sudhakar Windows and Doors

Related Stories

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *