Tower Re-SkinEdit profile
What initially began as a speculative proposal for a bold re-shaping of the UTS tower on Broadway has evolved as a broader architectural system for re-purposing inefficient and outdated buildings without the need to demolish and rebuild. LAVA has developed a simple, cost effective and easily constructed building skin that can transform the identity, sustainability and interior comfort of an existing structure such as the UTS tower.
The ‘skin’ is a translucent cocoon that can create its own ‘micro climate’. It can generate energy with photovoltaic cells, collect rainwater, improve the distribution of natural daylight and it can use available convective energy to power the building’s ventilation requirements. A pre-existing building is wrapped with three-dimensional lightweight, high performance composite mesh textile. Surface tension allows the membrane to freely stretch around walls and roof elements achieving maximum visual impact with minimal material effort.
The skin is also an intelligent media surface that can be used for dynamic animation and to communicate information into the public realm – effectively integrating principles of architecture, fashion, media and communication design into a new hybrid typology.
The re-skin concept continues LAVA’s research into sustainable publicarchitecture by combining lightweight contemporary materials with the latest digital fabrication technologies with the aim of achieving more (architecture) with less (material/energy/time).
‘Tower Skin’ will create a new iconic tower for Sydney. As the Opera House is an international cultural icon facing the harbour, the UTS tower will be an icon for the inner Sydney, representing an innovative and realistic approach that addresses the challenges of environmental sustainability. Rapid transformation and development of media, communication and technology will act as the catalyst for the rejuvenation of the tower identity, performance and user comfort.
Media walls have an increasing role in city skylines. The UTS Tower will promote its own identity as a public and progressive institution with interactive, energy efficient light systems that keep up with the
university’s developments in real time. The elegance of the proposal masks a hard working intelligence and sustainable philosophy not seen within the city; an effective, strong and poetic intervention derived from LAVA’s concern with biomorphology, ecology and efficiency of a ‘minimal’ surface.
Tower Skin creates a see through ‘Cocoon’ around the tower that acts a high performance ‘micro climate’ that generates energy, collects water, improves day lighting and uses available convective energy to power the towers’ ventilation and distribution requirements. A minimal intervention in the towers existing façade allows direct user control of localized environmental comfort by opening single glazing bays to boost ventilation flows that feed from a core of centralised conditioned air.
During rain events water is collected locally across the skin to contribute and offset the towers existing water loads.
The skin acts as a microclimate around the existing tower. Convective energy draws vertically to the top of the tower generating energy that in turn reduces energy loads for inbound air conditioning.
Solar Collection & Access
Solar energy is collected annually to off set night energy requirements of the skin and existing building loads during the day.
With minimal intervention the existing façade is adapted to allow localized user control that makes use of the external convective energy to supply air and control temperature within the interior.
Ease of Construction
The design embraces digital technology with computer designed and generated components that are manufactured off site to exacting tolerances. Initial design options and configurations are easily enerated to accommodate and address the most complex brief issues and operational requirements. Common features reduce fabrication time and effort whilst standard elements allow fast and easy reproduction for replacement. Minimal steel components and typical point fixings further improve efficiency and ease of construction. A process of optimized minimal surface design and digital fabrication technology allows the Tower Skin to reveal a new dimension in sustainable design practice.
Fulfilling the sustainable agenda of the rejuvenation, the work would succeed in its quest for optimum efficiency in material usage, low construction weight, fabrication and installation time, while at the same time achieving maximum visual impact on an urban scale. Tower Skin will demonstrate a cutting edge digital workflow, enabling the generation of space out of a lightweight material that requires minimal adjustments onsite to achieve a complete installation in an extremely short time.
Opportunity & Potential
With minimal adaptation the existing tower floor plate offers a major opportunity to significantly enhance the sustainable performance of the tower as a whole. Natural daylight, ventilation, and user comfort will be greatly enhanced with the raising of internal floor levels and removal of the existing ceiling. City views diffuse daylight and visual comfort will encourage occupants to engage with the tower edge, enjoying the unique city vistas and life from the tower interior.
Technology Day & Night
The Tower is wrapped with a 3-dimensional lightweight high performance fabric that is based on minimal surface tension that allows it to freely stretch around walls and roof elements. As the day shifts to the night, Tower Skin reveals itself as a dynamic beacon for Sydney’s skyline, an intelligent media surface,
the heart beat of UTS. Taking into consideration innovations in media facade treatment the UTS tower will have an active role in broadcasting light performances, campus events as well as complex informative
displays for the public environment at both campus scale and city scales. The form of the UTS tower allows different treatments according to site-specific information, city uses and daily light patterns. This
results in controlled distribution of both fabric performance and media content.
Description by architects