Electrochromic glass uses installed photovoltaic cells that enable the transition of the façade appearance and rate of sunlight deflection. Over the past five years there has been vast improvement in the levels of performance obtained from the photovoltaic cells and as performance increases the costs have decreased. While glass is a favoured product for use… Read More
LA Skyslide – A Playground in Building Façades
The Los Angeles landmark building, the U.S. Bank Tower, had recently begun offering something new alongside a magnificent view. The Skyslide, a fully transparent 45-foot-long slide jutting out from the building over 1,000 feet up, has seen exhilarated visitors travel over the city skyline, protected by only 1¼ inches of a toughened glass tube.
Façades are not just the visible skin of a building, covering the skeleton of its structure. The façade itself can make the building’s personality, whether it’s seeking gravitas and authority — like the Royal Albert Hall — an invigorated business or cultural area — like the development of London’s Canary Wharf in the 1990s — or simply playfulness and engagement, as with the new Skyslide.
But the U.S. Bank Tower is not the first building to play with transparent façades: the Grand Canyon Skywalk allows tourists to travel along a horse-shoe glass bridge over 2,000 feet above the canyon floor below; Las Vegas, home of the glamorous frontage, sends guests at the Stratosphere Hotel on a rollercoaster over 1,000 above the Strip; the Shanghai Pearl Tower allows visitors to view the city from over 1,100 feet above the city, from an observation deck with an inch-and-a-half thick glass floor; and the Umeda Sky Building in Osaka, Japan, is made up of two 40-storey towers joined by the world’s highest glass-sided escalator.
The UK doesn’t miss out on the fun either: the Blackpool Tower has a glass-floored observation deck at 486 feet, and the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth, designed to resemble a billowing sail, has a transparent deck over 300 feet above the sea.
What all these buildings have in common is an understanding that any building is not only bricks, mortar and steel: every building also exists as an object to be viewed, to be used — and even to be played with.
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Today’s façades reflect commercial intent, push design boundaries, change environments and showcase engineering capabilities. Are modern day façades merely used as a tool to showcase design progression and engineering egos? Are we considering the façade skin and the role it plays in influencing the urban landscapes of our future? With so much emphasis placed on… Read More
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