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Spotlight: Façades
ElasticoFarm’s S-LAB Is A Warm and Wonderful Warehouse
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3 Fresh Metal Facade Options
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3 Exterior Finishes with a Novel Touch
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HWKN Creates an Art Venue Near Riyadh with a Dynamic Facade
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4 Enduring Cladding Materials Given a New Twist
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A Sophisticated Louvre System Pumps Up the Volume of a French Office Building
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Spotlight: Façades

When it comes to the design of manufacturing warehouses, function often trumps form. In order to accommodate the equipment inside, the barn-like structures, typically steel and concrete, are hulking and Herculean, devoid of much (if any) charm. But a recently completed facility headquarters in Turin, Italy, bucks the expected vernacular by revealing that a softer side is possible for industrial architecture.

Designed by architecture firm ElasticoFarm on the campus of the National Institute of Nuclear Physics, S-LAB is the new production complex for the machinery and precision instruments required by the research agency. “It’s an important building in an important location,” says studio co-founder Stefano Pujatti of the approximately...

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Metal Mesh by GKD Metal Fabrics

Cladding the balustrade, the fall guards, and the spiral staircases and elevator towers at either end of this footbridge at Zurich’s main train station, GKD’s Metal Mesh is semi-translucent, offering users views to the city while ensuring their safety. Along the bridge, the horizontal warp wires are installed with a zigzag effect that alters the material’s transparency and opacity, while on the vertical structures, the wires are more rigid. Together, the two applications give the bridge architectural lightness and exemplify the meshes’ possibilities.

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MetaMetal by Pure + Freeform

The MetaMetal collection features eight single-skin aluminum compositions
that highlight the...

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Out System by Wall&decò

The Out system brings wallpaper to the outdoors. The fibreglass coverings (for application on concrete, gypsum board or other materials, with sanitizing primer and transparent finish) are predicted to last up to 10 years. Measuring 94 centimetres wide in heights up to seven metres (depending on project needs), the panels come in numerous motifs, including Debonademeo’s Bau-Man, a whimsical pattern of striated semicircles.

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Corrugated Hemp Panels by Margent Farm

A hemp farm in Cambridgeshire, England, Margent Farm manufactures various household products, as well as these corrugated construction sheets made with hemp fibres stabilized in a bio-resin matrix (which consists of such...

Saudi Arabia’s inaugural Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale in December 2021 marked a new era for contemporary art in the traditional town: It kick-started the redevelopment of the industrial zone on the outskirts of the historic capital city of Riyadh into a cultural centre for the broader creative community. Anchoring the event was Jax 01, a permanent exhibition space in a 7,000-square-metre former warehouse by New York–based firm HWKN.

Exaggerated outwardfacing footings support the facade and help to visually connect it to the surrounding courtyard, enabling a smooth transition between the indoor and outdoor spaces.

When reconceptualizing the distribution centre, designers Matthias Hollwich and Dorin Baul of HWKN looked to the “existing structure and local systems and materials to highlight the often-overlooked character of this amazing city.” Borrowing its name and design inspiration from its previous tenant — the household cleaning supplies brand Ajax — the building maintains its factory roots via a new articulated exterior.

Retrofitting often comes with its fair share of challenges, and here, it was determined that any showpiece facade would have to be entirely self-supporting. Seeing an opportunity, the team let climate-control design define the look of the building: Jax 01 is fronted by a series of dramatically oversized Corten steel shutters, an elevated version of the loading docks that characterize other buildings in the area.

To give the Corten shutters a sophisticated “fine arts performance,” HWKN concealed their mechanical folding system, along with most structural components.

These large, heavy mechanisms with perforated panel inserts help to modulate the effects of the desert sun and make any indoor lighting condition achievable at the touch of a button — an especially important consideration when showcasing a variety of art installations, including digital exhibitions. “We did not want to hide the screening system. Instead, we made it the main feature of the facade, allowing it to open and close in a very playful manner,” the design team says. Outward-facing footings reaching into the courtyard reinforce a stately entry ramp and give a dynamic character to the ground plane while also providing the counterbalance necessary for a tectonic facade.

A similar pared-down approach was undertaken with the interiors, where a grand, eight-metre-high hall connects (by way of a staircase and gently sloping ramp) to a more intimate mezzanine at the rear. Painted white, the flange beams and columns are fixed with exposed fasteners, a further nod to the complex’s industrial heritage. Even the functional aspects of the building evoke a shop-floor atmosphere: Freestanding walls, benches and planters outfitted with forklift pockets can easily be lifted, carried across the ramps and rearranged for any event — from a small-scale viewing to a grand public opening — allowing for maximum curatorial flexibility.

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Hardie Architectural Collection by James Hardie

With three panel types — Smooth Sand, Multi- Groove and Knockdown — designers can create mixed-texture facades, with fine and smooth contrasting rough stucco finishes. The fibre-cement boards create a multidimensional aesthetic of clean lines.

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Paramountstone by Walker Zanger

In two natural tones — taupe Trail Dust and deep grey Iron — this series
captures the essence of concrete. The porcelain tiles come in 20.3-by- 121.9- and 60.9-by-121.9-centimetre formats, as well as a coordinating
mélange mosaic that adds a compelling accent.

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Longoton Terracotta Rainscreen by Shildan

With an internal chain of I-beam supports, the four-centimetre-thick

When a client asks for transparency and low energy consumption in one building, you wouldn’t immediately think of wrapping said structure in glass. Yet that’s exactly what Barbarito Bancel Architectes did with its submission to a competition for a new office building in a fast-growing tech hub in Lille, a historic city in northern France. “Achieving both those things was difficult,” admits Benjamin Bancel, co-founder of the Paris-based practice.

Barbarito Bancel Architectes angled the aluminum louvres on the mostly glass Lucio building to alleviate the harsh effects of direct sunlight.

The firm won over the judges in 2017 with a design that was classic with a twist: Its building featured an imposing precast concrete...