Arch. Myriam B. Mahiques Curriculum Vitae

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The City and its Skins

The pictures about the tower skins are taken from the article´s link, see reference below.

There is a curious article by Darren Quick at, published February 11th, 2010: “Using a skin graft to give city eyesores an eco-friendly face-lift”. Here is an excerpt:
“The Laboratory for Visionary Architecture (LAVA) proposes a simple, cost effective, easily constructed skin that promises to transform dated structures into sustainable and stunning buildings.
The “Tower Skin” concept is a transparent cocoon made of high performance composite mesh textile that is wrapped around an existing structure to act as a high-performance “micro climate”. Surface tension allows the membrane to freely stretch around walls and roof elements achieving maximum visual impact with minimal material effort. The skin is also easily repairable, is removable and upgradable and features a self-cleaning coating.
It generates energy with photovoltaic cells, collects rainwater, improves day lighting and uses available convective energy to power the towers’ ventilation requirements. Natural convection draws conditioned air through existing rooms and vents it to the exterior to generate energy. The skin is also an intelligent media surface that can be used for dynamic animation and communicating information such as performances and campus events in real time.
The architectural system for re-purposing inefficient and outdated buildings without resorting to demolition and rebuilding began as a speculative proposal by multinational architectural practice, LAVA, for a re-shaping of the University of Technology (UTS) Broadway Tower in Sydney, Australia, which has long been known as Sydney’s ugliest building”.

The skin is proposed, for instance, to cover abandoned buildings, but my question is, who could decide which buildings need this type of skin? There is no consensus about what is a “good aesthetic” for the city, and that’s correct, many architectural styles live together and nobody has the right to say “this is the best”, unless the words are related to an specific issue. What about context? If the neighborhood is historical, is it a good idea to add these skins? Is it better than preservation? I don’t think so. If this project has a certain feasibility, I hope buildings won’t be converted into simple sculptures. A building is much more than a sculpture.
This is not the same concept developed by the wrapping artist Christo. He causes a huge impact in urban and rural environments for a certain period of time, but he and Jeanne Claude do not intend to change the city.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude Wrapped Reichstag, Berlin 1971-95 Photo: Wolfgang Volz. From

Read the complete article

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