Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Inhabitat: Façadism

I love new (or old) terms that are evocative of the changing face of architecture. A post in Adaptive Reuse dropped the term facadism, which was new to me. Wikipedia explains: "Façadism (also façadism or façadomy) is the practice of renovating old buildings leaving the facade of a building intact while demolishing and rebuilding its innards." So a new one - and let's couple it with our trend for veg.itecture.

Call it what you will: mur vegetal, elevated landscape, vertical gardens, living walls, green screen... or vegetated façadism. It means a whole new wave of landscape+urbanism. Some old, some new - it's a whole new architecture. All of these links are via Inhabitat over a span of a couple of years.

First, one that appeared today was a nice subtle and sweet intervention by Edina Tokodi - on a project: " SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority) to encourage Philadelphia’s commuters to ‘Go Green’ with her navigable moss icons and green walls in the East Market Station’s passenger service area, ticketing area, and on the exterior of the station building and Transportation Museum. The initiative is part of SEPTA’s mission to help commuters become more aware of the positive environmental impact of using mass transit regularly."

An old favorite, and one of the pinnacles of façadism is of course Musee de Quai Branly, by the illustrious Mr. Blanc. I did find a great interview via PingMag as well with some great examples of his work. This has been exposed often - but never seems to get old - pure, unadulterated green facadism. Via Inhabitat, from January 2007: "The three-part system consists of a PVC layer, felt, and metal frame, providing a soil-free self-supporting system light enough to be hung on the wall, and even suspended in the air, weighing in at less than 30 kilograms per square meter."

I've seen a couple of version of this idea - but really like it in a way. From Inhabitat, June 2007: "...Joost Bakker’s Schiavello Vertical Gardens. The steel-frame interior plant system was designed on a grid that allows numerous plants to be stacked vertically in columns or walls..."

Paul Kephardt and Rana Creek have some great projects under their belt, as well as a elegant metal walls via Inhabitat, March 2006. "The vertical facades grow succulents and other plants through beautifully cut surfaces. Initially, the panels sit flat to allow the roots to settle with gravity, then gradually get raised to vertical and the plants continue to grow through the openings in the metal. They... would be beautiful works of art even without the greenery popping through. The one pictured here was meant to convey a sense that the plants had strength enough to bend the metal outward as they forced their way through."

Spanning the gap between vegetated architecture and urban ag - a project recently posted on Inhabitat from February (although covered last fall quite extensively). And adds another term as well: "...Agro-Housing tackles the looming statistics with a high-rise apartment complex concept that incorporates a vertical greenhouse, creating compact homes that also enable families to grow their own organic produce."

Another ag-related model (previously shown) is from London - resulting in a pretty stunning form. It also presented the nerd-word from Sim-City: "... Arcology, that is, a self sustainable building, capable of providing food, water, and energy to the inhabitants of the complex."

A similar, non-agricultural and well-designed Canadian example from December 2007: "The design calls for the use of geothermal combined with thermal accumulators for cooling and heating, recycling industrial containers to be used in the building’s structure, bicycles facilities, and even an interior wall garden to filter the air inside the building."

Green Shutter from March 2006 is a small-scale, add-on version for vegetation: "A hanging garden of sorts, the Green Shutter takes on full function as a shutter when the vines from the planter box at the base wind up and around the horizontal trellis. When the greenery covers the entire area, it acts as a lush privacy screen, insulator and heat barrier." Multiply by all the windows, you've got facadism."

We've featured some of the representational designs for the greening of the rebuilt New Orleans. A September 2006 post includes more façadism at work, first the "...ShotgunLOFT design, entered by Schwartz Architecture... utitilizes modular prefab elements for sustainable cost-efficiency, and copious greenery with orchards and planted trellises to reduce the increased heat from the sun."

Green façadism. I like the ring of that.


  1. Actually, "arcology" comes from Italian architect, artist, philosopher Paolo Soleri (not originated by Sim City). It is the fusion of architecture and ecology.

  2. Thanks for the clarification on the origins of 'arcology'. Wikipedia has some interesting info - worthy a a more expansive post. The definition that struck me: "Arcology, from the words "ecology" and "architecture,"[1] is a set of architectural design principles aimed toward the design of enormous habitats (hyperstructures) of extremely high human population density. These largely hypothetical structures, which are themselves commonly referred to as "arcologies," would be self-contained, contain a variety of residential and commercial facilities, minimize individual human environmental impact, and possibly be economically self-sufficient." Sounds like a lot of these mega-tower and eco-planned communities floating around...


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