What’s behind your façade?

15 May 2014

WAN finds out what's behind the façade of past award-winner Guy Hollaway Architects

Façades are arguably one of the most important elements in today’s buildings, both from a design standpoint as it sets the tone for the rest of the building and also from an engineering perspective. A design team’s choice of façade can also have a major impact on the energy efficiency and environmental performance of the finished building due to recent advances in technology.

Where we often notice the greatest impact is in retrofitting or adaptive reuse projects where outdated or neglected buildings are transformed through innovative solutions. In some cases, façade design can actually tip the scales between demolition and refurbishment.

Last year’s winner of the WAN Façade of the Year Award was Guy Hollaway Architects LLP with their stunning Crit Building. The design team was approached to create an innovative building that could provide a new way of learning for students and a beacon for the Kent School of Architecture, whilst re-animating a lifeless square into a social hub for students from the surrounding university campus.

Working with the Kent School of Architecture and taking inspiration from the work of the Ned Kahn Studio, the treatment of the south façade overlooking the square evolved to a statement that reflects a constant flow of students moving past the square to form an active facade that moves with the wind. The façade more than exceeded in its aim to provide a spectacular exterior while protecting artwork within the building from direct sunlight.  

We spoke to Guy Hollaway about the importance of the façade and how architecture is advancing in terms of technology and sustainability.

How did you become involved in the design of the Crit Building?

For this commission we were approached by our informed client, The University of Kent, Architecture Department with whom we have a long relationship supporting students in the field of architecture. Following their approach we submitted concept proposals to the school as part of a national competition in which we were successful.

What was your inspiration for this façade?

The façade concept was developed in conjunction with the university's research department and in discussion with Ned Khan. We are really interested in low tech solutions and feel these can potentially mark the way forward for façade architecture. We have found that interaction with people who pass by and that are environmentally responsive have led to the successful façade concepts.

What do you think makes a façade effective?

Central to the success of any façade is how it responds to its context and how it contributes to place-making.

Do you work with a façade specialist?

We are not currently working with any façade specialists, however we would embrace this in the future as we believe this to be the future of façade technology.

What’s next for Guy Hollaway Architects in terms of façade design?

Through our ongoing work we are developing a design language whereby façade treatments develop and are enhanced with age, we are also continuing to develop environmentally and site responsive treatments. We have recently completed a bespoke residential dwelling located on the highly-exposed Dungeness Estate on the Kent Coast which has been designed to weather in response to the site's hostile weather conditions.

A big thank you to Guy for answering our questions and providing greater insight into this ever-progressing area of design.

The WAN Façade Award is open for entries until 30 June 2014.

As part of this diverse category we will be profiling three more projects from the list of entries into this award. To be in with a chance of having your project selected, please send your entry with a short description about “What’s behind your façade” to Francesca Maw on francesca.maw@builtenvironmentmedia.com or call +44 (0)1273 201 109.

Francesca Maw
WAN AWARDS Co-ordinator

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