These days a compound wall has become a bio wall; terraces have become well landscaped terrace gardens. Even individual pocket terraces have become flower beds – which amplifies the green factor in exterior elevations, says Samir Dharurkar, Principal Architect, We Architects.
When it comes to constructing and designing the exteriors for homes/offices/retail spaces, what are some of the changes and innovations that have taken place over the years?
There have been some significant changes in designing the exteriors. New products come into play and so do new materials and that gives rise to newer possibilities in design. A few decades earlier exterior panelling without using real wood was not possible but now you can get the same look and feel using alternative materials. Likewise, a variety of options are available which can replace wood, marble, stone etc. Retail design has given rise to the use of weather proof materials, laser cut jali options, likewise different varieties of seamless glass with no visible joinery details have come into play to improve visibility. Even though the use of technology in building and construction has been witnessed globally, newer techniques like steel structures, precast walls, 3D printing technology not yet widely used in India. Still, most of the projects follow traditional method which consume more time and labour.
How has glass as a material evolved in designing the exteriors of skyrises and super skyrises?
We can’t neglect the importance of glass when it comes to façade designing; especially sky rises. In fact, it’s the most widely used material today. Glass has its own benefits. Perfect material to cover up the building as a skin. It has evolved like nothing – from framed one to frameless. We see use of stained glass in some old forts, churches which are more than 200- 300-year-old. Earlier the use of glass was limited to windows – in the form of framed windows. But now it’s the main material for building skins. Also, a tremendous change in glass as a façade designing material has been witnessed. Variety of colours, sizes, clamps, fixtures are available now days.
Also, Low-E value glass has come into the picture which offers additional, solar reflective/heat gain properties. – and plays a very important role in economizing the AC load within a building. It has become the most widely used material in the construction industry and has its unique aesthetic value also. All sky rises– world’s tallest buildings are using glass as a primary façade covering material. Even residential buildings are using glass which offers best soundproof qualities.
When it comes to creating a biophilic exterior for an existing building how can it be done?
Biophilic elements like bio wall, terrace gardens can be easily adopted in the urban landscape. Today a compound wall has become a bio wall, terraces have become well landscaped terrace gardens. Even individual pocket terraces have become flower beds – which amplifies the green factor in exterior elevations. Bio walls play a major role like fencing/barricading especially for newer projects being executed in metro cities. They are replacing typical ascent wall in reception areas – adding pleasant green elements.
When it comes to climatic adaptability, what kind of role do parametrically designed facades play? Parametrically designed facades play an important role in climatic adaptability. Nowadays there are specially designed software available which can easily perform all the necessary data analysis at design development stage itself – to make it more energy efficient. We can easily plan our window openings, type of glass to be used, supporting member’s placement well in advance according to the sun path diagram. So that we can reduce the buildings dependency on artificial light during day time making it more energy efficient. Few years back, we came across a project – where clients asked us to design commercial building façade without using structural glazing and ACP cladding. And this building was going to be a certified green building. We accepted the challenge and came out with wonderful elevations by following all principles of climatology to make it more energy efficient.
What kind of materials continues to play an important role in the creation of an exterior which has a low impact on ecology?
Nowadays many developers are concerned about carbon credit points, but very few materials are available which have low impact on ecology. In short alternatives to replace all the routine materials is limited and not without substantial increase in cost. Very few good quality texture paints, real wood panels, natural stones, marbles, some cementitious and fibre panels have low impact on ecology (being a bio degradable material – however, their production process has substantial impact on the ecology) To my personal opinion ACP, glass, and cement asbestos sheets also have maximum impact on ecology – but is still widely used. So, it is always advisable to use certified green materials – which also gives carbon credit points.