Grafting a little help from LAVA

09 Feb 2010

Reskinning could give new life to an ageing population

The Laboratory for Visionary Architecture (LAVA), hasdeveloped what could be a simple, cost effective answer to eco-regeneration. The easily constructed Tower Skin has been developed as a concept to refresh the University of Technology (UTS) Broadway Tower in Sydney.

Despite being ground-breaking in its time, the UTS building now looks out of date. “A re‐skinned UTS Tower could be an example of sustainability, innovation, cutting edge design and creative education, without demolishing and rebuilding the 1960s icon,” said ChrisBosse, Australian director of LAVA. It is hoped that the Tower Skin concept could be transferred to any tired looking building around theworld.

Away from aesthetic benefits the Tower Skin is also a model for sustainable regeneration. It acts as a high performance micro-climate within a transparent cocoon. It generates energy with photo‐voltaic cells, collects rain water, improves day lighting anduses available convective energy to power the towers’ ventilation requirements.

The Tower is wrapped with three‐dimensional lightweight, high performance compositemesh textile. A steel structure is bolted to the existing concrete facade of the tower and the membrane mesh stretches between the beams, automatically assuming the state of least energy which is a continuous curvature, allowing the membrane to freely stretch around walls androof elements achieving maximum visual impact with minimal material effort. Furthermore it can be activated as an intelligent media facade, lit in the evenings to communicate information such as performances and campus events in real time.

“The reskinning technology could be easily applied to other buildings in need of afacelift such as the Colliers Wood Building and the Barbican Centre in London, and thepostindustrial abandoned buildings across Hong Kong. We can quickly and cheaplyenhance their performance and aesthetics through this minimal intervention," said Bosse.LAVA has also proposed a transformation for a much maligned car park in Sydney’s CBD. (Click third thumbnail)

Niki May Young
News Editor

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