Indeed, surface has gotten a bad rap throughout the centuries. For architects however, surface is emerging as one of the ways to solve the most fundamental design challenge of our time - how to build sustainably and beyond.
Of course, facade systems have always allowed us to track the development of architecture, from the most basic straw and mud envelopes to the ornamental domes of the Renaissance and geometric complexity of 21st Century design.
And so, what about today?
The shift towards sustainable facade design is, "on the surface," a much more subtle one than the most distinctive shifts of the past. After all, a new office dressed in a glazed curtain wall might look similar to one built in the 80;s - the only (major) difference being that the building is essentially harnessing the power of the sun.
And solar windows are only one of many ways in which facades are becoming essential components in the quest to green the building industry: the list also includes biometric design, vertical gardens and a whole- range of other energy-producing envelopes.
More importantly, as concepts of "green" and "organic" are becoming integral parts of the design landscape, we're forced to ask ourselves what should truly count as a sustainable facade: What materials will emerge as key to our quest to restore the equilibrium of our planet? How will the assembly and delivery of building parts change? And what role will recycling play in our increasingly circular approach to construction?
We launched WICONA Meets to provide some answers to what architecture has in store for us, but also an effort to inspire and spark a conversation about the endless possibilities of building beyond tomorrow. Today, the professionals shaping our cities are more than ever required to find new, creative solutions to balance aesthetics with the demands of environmental stewardship and a rapidly growing urban population.
In the latest episode of WICONA Meets, our team travelled to Copenhagen to meet one of Europe's leading facade designers. Steen Elsted Andersen is the Head of Facade Design at Henning Larsen and has, throughout his 20-year career, participated in the design of buildings like The Copenhagen Opera, Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center and the Nordea Bank Corporate Center.