Sunday, April 6, 2008

Materiality: Textured Verticality

It has been a bit since I've discussed the concept of texture and materials - and a quick peek through some saved up links made me realize there was a bevy of project images just waiting to emerge. I will attempt to focus this a bit by concentrating on vertical surface texture - spanning a bit of vegetation, and much undulation, that provides facade and wall panel articulation beyond mere flat planes.

Because of my love of green walls and the fact that facades with green are better than those without (i jest) - I start with the art piece 'Bar Code'. A subtle vegetative example of some simple facade manipulation... via Vegeforme (an unfortunately brief French blog from Richard Dhennin on vertical greening - thx Anne at MyUGDG for this one!)

:: image via Vegeforme

Continuing semi-small, a fence/wall panel from Superblue are trellis wall forms that are evocative of hedgerows to "...create a 'soft' boundary structure--an undulating honeycomb... The varying intervals between the cross-pieces within the panels create striking patterns when lit." (via gardenhistorygirl) Definitely very interesting at a pedestrian scale as well - and a way to reinvent a garden staple in new ways.

:: images via Superblue

The undulation is interesting and can be expressed with a variety of materials. In this case SHoP has created an undulating brick panel facade for 290 Mulberry Street, courtesy of Tropolism and Curbed SF.

:: image via Tropolism

:: image via Curbed SF

A subtle textured concrete from the Auditorium and Conference Center in Mérida, Spain by Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos (via A Daily Dose of Architecture) provides another example of subtle variations to maniupulate light and shadown on a typically smooth material. While some prefer the purity of concrete forms - I do like this little bit bit of tooth to the surface to give the facade a little life.

:: image via Archidose

There do seem to be many opportunities in an architect's toolkit for implementing building skins that are evocative without significantly increasing costs. A project via Architechnophilia from Melbourne, Australia dubbed CH2 (the Council House 2 building) from Design Inc, uses an interesting wood panel facade that open depending on the sun's intensity, providing a bioclimatic function as well as a particularly striking facade.

:: images via Architechnophilia

Use of natural materials such as wood soften facades. Stone is another way to do so, in a variety of ways. No way is more abstractly rigid as the gabion (which I absolutely love). The Konzept Haus 9x9 by Titus Bernhard Architekten uses this technology in the entire form of the house, both for aesthetics and to aid in providing thermal mass for winter warmth and summer cooling.

:: images via Treehugger

Taking this full scale are textures that evoke natural materials and regionalism - in this case using stone to make 'Rocks' - abstractions on basalt columns for a hillside library in Columbia. A profile in Eikongraphia outlines some of the beauty and context of this pretty stunning project by Giancarlo Mazzanti: "The contrast with the landscape, the ‘Biblioteca Parque Espana’ sits in, certainly contributes massively to its beauty. In the green landscape with only beige colored low-rise self-built dwellings the library rises up eight stories, clad in black natural stone."

:: images via Eikongraphia

The sum total of textured facade materials that can be applied to a variety of vertical surfaces. One may ask how this applies to landscape? In a few particular ways.

First, the blurring of line between architecture and landscape makes the link and usage of materials of utmost importance in reflecting regionalism, style, and function. Landscape architecture detailing is often stuck in a formalistic rut when it comes to materials, either evoking nature or relying on spare modernist sensibilities.

Second, these examples bridge the gap between these two poles and draw from the architects more refined and innovative application of materials - providing the desire for organicism but the ability to frame it in striking, architectural forms.

Third, these forms are applied to architectural context but can be abstracted into a variety of scales more common in landscape application: walls, small structures, fences, furnishings, and art.

Fourth, the link between landscape urbanism and form-making of cities draws as much from landscape detailing as from architectural (and really the dialogue between the two) and the palette of materials and how we use them is just as important in the landscape as in buildings - if not more so. Reliance on 'naturalism' is not going to cut it, specifically in urban contexts.


  1. Colombia is the name of the country, Columbia is the name of a university.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.