T5a – Responsive Facades

Through my investigative report I have started looking at examples of responsive facades in contemporary architecture. A responsive facade is one that alters to a given stimulus. The facade usually responds in order to control the internal climate of the building, although could be for aesthetic purposes too. It would be more beneficial to have some effect on the building rather than appearance so that the extra cost and material is justified. The stimulus could be daylight levels, internal/external temperature or even time of day. A good precedent for responsive facades is the Al Bahar Towers in Abu Dhabi by Aedas.


Inspired by a mashrabiya (a traditional Islamic lattice shading device), the shading system on this pair of towers was developed using parametric design for the geometry of the moving triangular facade panels which open and close in response to sun exposure and the changing incidence angle of the sun throughout the year.

The screen operates as a curtain wall, sitting two meters outside the buildings’ exterior on an independent frame. Each triangle is coated with fibreglass and programmed to respond to the movement of the sun as a way to reduce solar gain and glare. In the evening, all the screens close.

The building responds to the external stimulus of UV light: as the sun rises, the shading components along the east side of the building remain closed, while open on the remainder of the building. As the sun moves around the building throughout the day, the dynamic facade responds with components opening/closing accordingly in order to shade the glazing.

To better understand the mechanism and how the facade components work I decided to model them:

This simple folding mechanism is very effective in shading the glazed building, this is particular important due to the hot climate where the buildings are located. This modelling exercise got me exploring other folding techniques to see how else this shading device could have been designed.

As you can see I experimented with three forms and folding techniques and these could all be developed to a solar shading device, I developed the first example into a design proposal below.

If attached to central support with an electronically programmed mechanism that could slide to open/close the component the surface area would open up to provide the shading. This design could be scaled-up to shade whole facades of buildings. It would offer more thermal shading if installed on the exterior of a building (outside glazing) however it could be fitted behind a glazed rainscreen, though thermal gain would still be an issue to some extent.

T5a – Parametric Design

Having come to grips with 3D modelling program Rhinoceros over the bank holiday weekend, I have started to practice using the script writing plug-in Grasshopper. This uses script to help generate 3D forms, within which, parameters can be changed which affects the generated form. Below are three parametric towers, modelled through Grasshopper into Rhinoceros. I have altered the parameters in the script and the differences between the three include height, rotations and distance between ‘floors’:

Although a quick form-generating exercise, it is clear that this method could offer unexpected design solutions that could inform future projects.

T5a – Parametric Design

As mentioned in my previous post, my outline concept of investigation steered me towards parametric design. I have been doing some insightful reading around this subject for the report, including a very good book suggested by my tutor called Algorithms Aided Design by Arturo Tedeschi.

The book explains parametric design strategies using Grasshopper for Rhinoceros and I am looking forward to developing my skillset in this area over the coming weeks…

D4 – Site Selection

With the intention of exploring the concepts of ‘time’ and ‘place’ through architecture in this academic year, the site was crucial in ensuring that I can develop a scheme that responds to this theme. I have chosen the grounds of St. Botolph’s Priory in Colchester, highlighted in green below and located south of the ancient walled Roman city.

I have carried out initial site documentation and research, the next step is to develop my project brief and define the user group for a more focused approach to the project.

Statement of Academic Intent 2020-21

At the start of each year of study we are asked to set out our academic intent for the year ahead:

During my first year of study, my methodology is to challenge the concepts of ‘time’ and ‘place’ from the perspective of Architecture.

Everybody experiences architecture, be it consciously or sub-consciously, however those experiences can vary greatly with both ‘time’ and ‘place’. I aim to explore and interrogate the role of ‘affordance’ through Architecture.

This methodology originates from a deep personal interest in a range of current architectural issues, including my view of how architecture is ‘consumed’ in today’s society. A prime example of our modern-day consumption of architecture includes the concept of ‘background architecture’. 

Additionally, there exists in cities around the world redundant and abandoned places and architecture; their affordances may have evolved from the positive to the negative. With the concept of time and place at the forefront of my studies, I aim to unpick the role of architecture today. Buildings were once built to survive for a millennium and I am eager to explore whether this notion is relevant in a modern, twenty-first century society.

It is my intention for the methodology above to be the theoretical thread through each of the four components of my first-year studies:


Experiment with the way that Architecture transverse ‘time’ and ‘place’.


Explore the prevalence and dynamism of Architecture throughout history, linking this understanding to the future. 


Question the affordance of past, present and future technologies and the impact that they have had/can have on Architecture.


Consider the impact that Architectural Management and Practice have had on Design, Culture and Technology through time, and how this can be explored in the future.