Successfully improving the sustainability of old buildings quickly and cheaply may sound like a pipe dream, but the Laboratory for Visionary Architecture (LAVA) thinks they have a solution.
This video shows their plans to re-skin Sydney’s UTS tower, built in the 1960s, effectively creating a cooling microclimate around it. The skin would be made from a mesh-type textile, which could collect rainwater, house solar panels and also act as a media facade, containing information such as train times and advertising, or contemporary light shows.
LAVA’s Director, Chris Bosse believes:
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. The reskinning technology could be easily applied to other buildings in need of a facelift such as the Colliers Wood Building and the Barbican Centre in London, and the postindustrial abandoned buildings across Hong Kong. We can quickly and cheaply enhance their performance and aesthetics through this minimal intervention.
Unfortunately, re-skinning buildings completely transforms their facade, which raises a lot of questions. These buildings may be environmentally inefficient, but are we prepared to lose their visual contribution to our skylines? Should we consider retrofitting from within before wrapping, and totally changing, iconic buildings such as London’s Barbican? Or does the simplicity, lower cost and environmental benefits of re-skinning justify this radical change?