The Architectural Review: Facade

In the age of glittering CGIs and showy external renders, we ask whether the facade is simply skin-deep.

The approach to the facade has undergone countless transformations, from ancient Greek temples to Victorian prisons. It may have even faced extinction with the rise of Modernism, but as Jeremy Melvin argues in the opening keynote essay, the ideas of the philosopher Gottfried Semper are still relevant to the face of architecture today.

Catherine Slessor dismantles the temporary and not so temporary facades formed by scaffolding to uncover the wider processes of transformation they represent, while Alice Bucknell examines the new ‘facelifts’ applied to existing residential projects in Tehran.

This month’s Typology asks how the shop celebrates the allure of the commodity while Outrage calls for a return to elevations invested with meaning and significance.

Facades come in all shapes, sizes and materials, from the cast terracotta shell of Amin Taha’s housing in Upper Street in London to the sculptural brickwork of the Bremer Landesbank by Caruso St John and the faceted steel ‘overcoat’ applied to the concrete skeleton of ‘The Silo’ by COBE in Copenhagen.

And finally we celebrate the work of John Portman, whose colossal hotels in the USA have become synonymous with the hyperbole of late capitalism.


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