Why Facades?

A building’s façade is significant because it offers an opportunity to emphasize design. Too many structures opt for generic plans that merely satisfy structural requirements and lack personality. As a result, the cities where we live suffer from bland, uninteresting buildings. A building’s façade’s importance in energy efficiency and connecting a structure’s exterior and interior designs go beyond just being artistically pleasing. A building’s façade can open up a world of possibilities thanks to new materials, concepts, and design developments.

The amount of air and light that enters a building and how well it can withstand environmental conditions will be greatly influenced by the structure’s façade. This might, for instance, help prevent the formation of a wind tunnel or the vulnerability of a building to swaying in severe winds. 

There are many reasons why facades are crucial when designing a building or other structure, and studying some of the best-designed facades in the world is vital to fully comprehend their importance.

1. Soumaya Museum

The Soumaya Museum is home to the biggest private collection of Auguste Rodin sculptures in the world, which comprises almost 70,000 works of art from the 15th to the middle of the 20th century. The museum was planned and created by FR-EE, and it displays the collector’s varied tastes as well as his ambition to establish a brand-new cultural institution for the people of the city.

The 150-foot-tall building rises at the center of Plaza Carso, a brand-new commercial and cultural area that was also planned and created by FR-EE. While maximizing the preservation and durability of the entire structure, the museum’s form, a rotated rhomboid supported by 28 curved steel columns of various sizes and shapes, is covered in a skin of 16,000 hexagonal mirrored-steel elements that reference the traditional colonial ceramic-tiled building facades. 

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Soumaya Museum_©Rafael Gamo (https://www.archdaily.com/452226/museo-soumaya-fr-ee-fernando-romero-enterprise)

2. Mediopadana Station

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Mediopodana station_©Courtesy of Santiago Calatrava

The new Mediopadana TAV Station was created by renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, who is noted for his efforts to incorporate movement into the form of his buildings and constructions. The rail line itself is a contentious 483-meter-long high-speed track. When the station is finished, which is anticipated to be on June 9th, the platform will act as a new entrance to the Italian town of Reggio Emilia. The structure for the Mediopadana Station is a sizable undulating form consisting of 457 steel frames set around one meter apart, consistent with Santiago Calatrava’s hallmark white buildings.

To create the illusion of a fluid wave, the fame fluctuates slightly. Translucent glass panels are positioned between the steel components over the platform to offer protection from the weather. Every 25 meters, a composite concrete, and steel column supports a curved longitudinal beam that partially supports each of the ribs to provide additional support.

3. VIΛ 57 West

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VIΛ 57 West_©Nic Lehoux

The Durst Organization’s VI 57 West, designed by BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group, ushers in a new architectural style to New York City: the court scraper. The 830,000 sq ft highrise, which offers 709 residential flats and a lush 22,000 sq ft garden at the center of the structure, mixes the density of an American skyscraper with the public area of a European courtyard.

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VIΛ 57 West (Form Development)_©Courtesy of BIG

The VI Courtscraper is a cross between the conventional American highrise and the European perimeter block. The structure has a 450-foot peak at its northeast corner, which maximizes the number of apartments while gently protecting the Helena Tower next door’s river vistas. Depending on the viewing position of the spectator, VI’s volume varies. It looks like a distorted pyramid or a hyperbolic paraboloid from the west. The Courtscraper looks to be a thin spire when viewed from the east.

4. Sugamo Shinkin Bank – Nakaaoki branch

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Sugamo Shinkin Bank_©Daisuke Shima / Nacasa & Partners

According to the credit union’s motto, “We take delight in servicing happy customers,” Sugamo Shinkin Bank endeavors to offer exceptional customer service. The fourth branch where Emmanuelle has been hired to manage the architecture and interior design is the Nakaaoki branch. Creating a bank environment where customers want to remain longer and naturally feel drawn to return is a typical request for all branches. The Nakaaoki branch is situated at a busy intersection where people, cars, buses, bicycles, and other vehicles frequently travel through. Using this location’s singularity as inspiration, the façade was created to have a rhythmic expression that changes as people view it from various angles.

The rhythmic repetition of the cubes causes colors to flash in and out, dancing like notes in a rainbow song. Four various depths of cubes make up the façade. These cubes have colors painted on the front or sides, which cause the colors to shift or overlap when the viewer’s angle changes. Inside each of the 12 cubes are small elevated gardens were growing trees like olive trees and seasonal flowers like marigolds and lavender represent the changing seasons in nature.

Nakaaoki branch is the result of the fusion of Emmanuelle Moureaux Architecture + Design’s interpretation and the site characteristics.

5. Antwerp Port House

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Antwerp Port House_©Helene Binet

The original fire station on the Mexico Island site, a listed model of a Hanseatic home, became obsolete with the construction of a new fire station with the amenities required to service the developing port, and therefore relied on a change of use to ensure its preservation. The new concept had to incorporate this abandoned fire station. The City and Port authorities, along with The Architecture Department of the Flemish Government coordinated the architectural competition for the new headquarters. The design by Zaha Hadid Architects is the result of extensive historical research and a careful examination of the location and the existing structure.

The foundations of the design, which emphasizes the north-south site axis parallel with the Kattendijkdok linking the city center to the port, were laid by ZHA’s studies of the site’s history and heritage in collaboration with Origin, a leading heritage consultant in the restoration and renovation of historic monuments. Second, the building’s four elevations are given equal weight despite having no primary facade because of its waterfront location. Instead of a neighbouring volume that would have hidden at least one of the existing facades, ZHA’s concept is an elevated extension. The old fire station’s historical investigation by ZHA and Origin also emphasized the tower’s original purpose as a large, imposing element of the fire station’s Hanseatic design. It never achieved the powerful vertical statement it had planned to make to crown the massive volume of the structure below.

6. VM Houses

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VM Houses_©Maria Gonzalez

Bjarke Ingels Group and JDS have also collaborated on the design of this project. Two apartment buildings called the VM Houses are shaped like the letters V and M. The way the blocks are constructed allows for vistas, privacy, and daylight. By sliding the slab into the In the middle, the neighbor’s obstruction is removed, allowing for diagonal views of the wide and open fields beyond. To the north, each apartment has a double-height room, while to the south, they all have expansive panoramic views. For the M home, the diagonal slab’s reasoning is divided into more manageable chunks. The Unite d’Habitation typology of Le Corbusier is reinterpreted and enhanced in this project; the central corridors are brief and get light from both ends, giving the impression that bullets are entering the structure. The VM Houses provide more than 80 alternative dwelling kinds that are programmable, adjustable, and responsive to the unique requirements of modern life—a mosaic of many life forms.

7. The Broad Museum

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The Broad Museum_©Iwan Baan

The Broad is a brand-new museum of modern art that was constructed on Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles by philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad. It was designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro.

The museum’s architecture, dubbed “the veil and the vault,” combines the building’s two main functions—public display space and the storage needed to sustain The Broad Art Foundation’s extensive lending activities. Instead of demoting the storage to a supporting role, “the vault” plays a significant part in determining how visitors experience the museum from arrival to departure. Its large, opaque mass, which hovers in the middle of the structure, is always visible. The lobby below and the paths used by the public are shaped by the underside’s carvings. The floor of third-floor galleries makes up its upper surface. The “veil,” a porous, honeycomb-like outer structure that wraps around the block-long building and delivers filtered natural light, surrounds the vault. The “veil” of the museum lifts at the corners to let guests enter a bustling lobby. When the public reaches the near acre of column-free gallery space drenched in diffuse light, they have been lured upward via an escalator and have tunneled through the vault.

8. Al Bahar Towers

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Al Bahar Towers_©Aedas

Aedas Architects created a responsive facade for Abu Dhabi’s two buildings that draws inspiration from the “mashrabiya,” a traditional Islamic lattice shading structure. The Masharabiya shading system for the 145-meter towers was created by the computational design team of Aedas and finished in June 2012. The team was able to replicate the actuated facade panels’ functioning in response to solar exposure and shifting incidence angles throughout the year by using a parametric description for their geometry.

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Al Bahar Towers (Responsive Facade)_©Aedas

9. Bund Finance Centre

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Bund Finance Centre_©Laurian Ghinitoiu

Foster + Partners and Heatherwick Studio worked together to create the massive new mixed-use Bund Finance Centre, which is expected to revitalize Shanghai’s riverfront. The cultural center, which was designed as a venue for international artistic and cultural interaction as well as a location for brand events, product launches, and business gatherings, serves as the scheme’s social focal point. A moving curtain encircles the structure and adjusts to its changing use, revealing the stage on the balcony and vistas of Pudong. The façade was created in association with regional engineers from Tongji University and resembles the traditional Chinese bridal headgear by being arranged along three tracks and including layers of 675 unique magnesium alloy “tassels.”

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Bund Finance Centre (Fosun Foundation Details) _©courtesy of Foster + Partners

10. Elbphilharmonie Hamburg

Elbphilharmonie _©Iwan Baan

A new cultural center appears to serve the wealthy few far too frequently. A desirable combination of urban uses must be offered in addition to aesthetic architecture for the new Philharmonic to become a true tourist destination. A philharmonic auditorium, a chamber music hall, restaurants, bars, a panorama deck with views of Hamburg and the harbor, flats, a hotel, and parking facilities are all included in the complex of buildings. Similar to how they are in a city, these various purposes are united in one structure.

Like a city, the Kaispeicher and Philharmonic’s two opposing and superimposed architectural styles create exciting, varied spatial sequences: on the one hand, the Kaispeicher’s original and archaic feel, which is characterized by its connection to the harbor; on the other, the Philharmonic’s opulent, elegant world. A vast terrain of public and private spaces, each with a distinct character and size, is present between them. For example, the enormous terrace of the Kaispeicher, which extends like a brand-new public plaza, reacts to the Philharmonic’s inward-looking universe, which is located above it.

The Elbphilharmonie is a landmark that can be seen from a distance, adding a whole new vertical accent to Hamburg’s characteristic horizontal architecture. The breadth of the water and the industrial nature of the seagoing vessels create a larger sense of space in this new urban setting. The new structure, perched above the old one, is transformed into a massive, iridescent crystal by the glass façade, which is made up in part of curved panels, some of which have openings carved out of them. As it catches reflections of the sky, the river, and the city, its look changes.

Online sources

10 Modern Buildings with Facades That Keep Us Staring

By Caroline Williamson

Available at:


10 Fascinating Parametric Facade Design Projects From Around The World

By Thet Hnin Su Aung

Available at: https://www.oneistox.com/blog/parametric-facade-designs 

Top 10 Monumental Glass Facade Structures Around the World

Posted by Kathleen Villaluz

Available at: https://interestingengineering.com/culture/top-10-monumental-glass-facade-structures-world

10 Best Designed Buildings in the World From Top Architects

Available at: https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/best-architectural-projects-article  

12 Simply Amazing Facades

By Ryan Waddoups

October 3, 2016

Available at:  https://interiordesign.net/designwire/12-simply-amazing-facades/ 

Soumaya Museum / FR-EE Fernando Romero Enterprise

Curated by Daniela Cruz

Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/452226/museo-soumaya-fr-ee-fernando-romero-enterprise

Mediopadana Station | Santiago Calatrava

Available at:  https://www.arch2o.com/mediopadana-station-santiago-calatrava/  

The Broad Museum / Diller Scofidio + Renfro

Available at:  https://www.archdaily.com/772778/the-broad-diller-scofidio-plus-renfro 

Al Bahar Towers Responsive Facade / Aedas

Written by Karen Cilento

Available at:  https://www.archdaily.com/270592/al-bahar-towers-responsive-facade-aedas 

The Shard / Renzo Piano Building Workshop

Curated by María Francisca González

Available at:  https://www.archdaily.com/889852/the-shard-renzo-piano-building-workshop 

Bund Finance Centre / Foster + Partners + Heatherwick Studio

Available at:  https://www.archdaily.com/881511/bund-finance-centre-foster-plus-partners-plus-heatherwick-studio

Elbphilharmonie Hamburg / Herzog & de Meuron

Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/802093/elbphilharmonie-hamburg-herzog-and-de-meuron 

VM Houses / BIG + JDS

Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/970/vm-houses-plot-big-jds 

Antwerp Port House / Zaha Hadid Architects

Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/795832/antwerp-port-house-zaha-hadid-architects 

VIΛ 57 West / BIG

Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/794950/via-57-west-big 

Sugamo Shinkin Bank – Nakaaoki branch / Emmanuelle Moureaux Architecture + Design

Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/578034/sugamo-shinkin-bank-nakaaoki-branch-emmanuelle-moureaux-architecture-design


An Architect/Designer who stands utmost to facilitate success and break the stereotypes that have been followed for a very long time in architecture. He believes every design must be conceived to add charm and enhance the surrounding's innate beauty with energy and resource efficiency as key driving factors.