Geneva Office Building Features Distinctive Facade

FRIDAY, APRIL 28, 2017

The vision for Giovanni Vaccarini Architects’ latest project was clear, even if the view of the facade enveloping the group’s newest building isn’t.

The Italian firm, tasked with designing the offices of SPG Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, opted to employ what it refers to as an “adaptive reuse” of the existing structure.

Optical illusion

GVA renovated the 33,000-square-foot building, adding extra floors and a new facade, in a project that lasted from 2010-16 at a cost estimated to be between $10-50 million. And it is that facade that is the most striking characteristic.

The panes of glass lining the building were suspended and closely spaced, creating a shimmering, blurred effect—especially when looking at the structure from a distance.

The unique glass also provides solar shading for the interior of the building, which makes it energy efficient.

Technical direction for the project was provided by Fossati Architects. Consultants included Wintsch & Cie (structural engineering); BCS SA (facade engineering); and SIMOS (facade lighting design).

Complex Design

The structure of the SPG office complex is built from a skeleton of pillars and reinforced concrete slabs, which are hung on cells that make up the prefabricated curtain wall.

The individual cells, when pieced together, form a double-skin facade. That allows the building’s envelope to naturally ventilate while offering a shield against solar radiation. The ventilation system, combined with an internal system of forced ventilation, lowers the building’s energy consumption when it is compared to a normal building’s facade.

The steel structural elements, which were produced by Stahlbau Pichler, create a modular rhythm. They reflect on the glass shading panels, which gives weight to the light reflections.

The facade was designed with prefabricated modules. Aligned with each plane along a horizontal band, it provides flexibility in the internal partition arrangement and permits a wall to be placed every five feet.

The double facade is composed of prefabricated cells, which are dry hooked to the reinforced concrete slabs through hooks and bound together. Each module has a double skin—one internal, and one external—made of glass mounted on aluminum.

The inner layer consists of a traditional frame windows, which offer thermal and acoustic insulation. The outer layer consists of a single-tempered glass, which is screen-printed on the inside and glued with a structural silicone to the frames. Those glass panels, thanks to the dotted serigraphy printing that covers 80 percent of the surface, ensure transparency and visibility.

The panels are in groups of nine and are mobile and electronically controlled, allowing them to rotate on their vertical axis by a central. Their movement is controlled and regulated by light sensors.


Tagged categories: Building Envelope; Building facades; Commercial Construction; Design build; Europe; Renovation

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