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faceted icon – final post

The observation of the negative aspects of the existing towerhas been taken as the starting point of the project :bad propostions were making the building look too massive. In order to react on this aspect, the decision was taken to fragment this mass and go away from the rectangular perception of the tower in order to let the building breath with some public spaces.

The project was treated at two different scales :

one from far away in order to create an icon and a landmark,which will be more about shaping the building,

and the other from closer, to provide different perceptions and adapt to natural conditions.

The shaping of the building is contextualized with the surroundings : the fisrt step has been to take some pointsaround the building such as the acropolis, the station, the park, some piers, the end of the harbour.

Those points are then transformed into vectors by linking them with the closest corner of the tower. They are then scaled accordind to the same factor for each vector.

Those vectors are then distributed according to their length on the tower, and they are used to translation vectors from the corner in question to the new view point.

This principle is applied for the middle part of the building, corresponding to office program. The bottom part is already contextualized by the close relation is has with the surrounding, while the top part is starting to lose connection with the context because of its height.

If we take a look at one storey only, we can see that 2 points are defined by the minimum space the fire stairs will take and one by the view. The last point will be determined in order to keep a fixed ratio of 30% per floor of extra space.

When the view point correspond to the same corner as one of the fire stairs points, it creates instead a 5 side-polygone.

A few grasshopper codes and Rhino files…

defining the view points

4 sides-polygone

5 sides-polygone

From far away, the main idea is the shaping and the framentation of the tower, while we can have a glimpse at some opaque and transparent zones.

The sections evoque the connection with the public space. Before, the public space ended at the edges of the building. With this project, the public space goes into the building as a connecting void. It reuses the existing passage as a monumental entrance, reaching a floor with a café, and continuing straight to the fire stairs for the rest of the tower.

The structure is composed mainly with 2 facets per floor, connected at the floor height to the existing pillars. Sometimes some higher facets are set when there is pulbic space behind.

The first layer is composed of glass following the faceting, each panel having a width of about 2.5 m according to truck transportation, while the external pattern is added, with some losanges taking the porportions of the big facets and scaled according to two parameters – one visual and one technical.

The parameters are used both as scaling factors for the losange pattern. The first one derives form the sun incidence on each of the facet. It is being calculated and then influencing the scaling. The gradient on each of the facets indicates the level of sun intensity on them : the white represents the less exposed faces while the black shows the most exposed facets.

The second is about creating a fluidity and continuity between the facets to have an impression of a whole. Therefore, the values of scaling inherited from the image in grasshopper are comprised between 0 and 1.

A few grasshopper and Rhino images

the main division and losange dimensions before scaling

positioning the losanges


Interior renders

Final layout

faceted icon – pin-up

The general shape of the tower derives from the surroundings. Important views are defined, creating vectors sized by the distance from the closest corner to the viewpoint. By scaling those vectors and streching the different facets, the main volume is created.

This system is applied in the central core of the building. In the first floors, the city around is present enough so that the surroundings already influences the building. In the last floors of the tower, the distance to the ground becomes  too big and loses contact with the context.

In the central part, the extra space should be kept as a minimum : it is the result of a ratio calculation so that the extra space always remain 30% of the existing floor area.

When the view point corresponds to the same corner as the fire stairs point, it creates a five-sided polygon.

From inside, the variation is obtained by the scalingof the pattern according to a gradient image and solar incidence calculations. As a result, the pattern changes in degrees of openess. The metal panel can almost disappear or become an important factor for shadow and privacy.

The structure is composed of two triangular elements, attached horizontaly to the slabs.

The metal panels are in front of the glass panels which are divided in the vertical distance,and attached by beams, rigidifying the structural trusses.

setting points

Some points are set on the map considering changes of directions in the environments (such as piers) as well as specific zones (parcs, acropolis, station..)

Those points are then related to the closest corner on teh tower, creating a vector from the corner toward the view point. This vector is multiplied by a factor comprised between 0.01 and 0.02. Therefore, the points that a far away from the tower create longer vectors.

Those vectors are then sorted by size, in order to get a distibution on the tower according to the distance. The shortest vectors are the lowest, while the longest are the highest.  The first three and last three levels don’t have points : The first levels have direct connection to the urban environment, and therefore don’t need extra view points. The last levels have a bigger freedom in shape and are too far from the ground : they lose connection with the context.

While the previous points are setted in on the tower, 2 extra points per floor are added by positioning the firestairs.

A total of three points per floor are positioned. In order to get an efficient facade that does not envelop to much extra space, a ratio of 30% extra space is fixed per floor

That creates a fourth point that respects the ratio. This point is located on a line that is parallel to the diagonal of the quadrangle. The intersection of this line with the line perpendicular to the same diagonal and passing by the corner.

This system is now adapted to the whole tower.

The problem remains and is still not solved when the view points correspond to the same corner as the fire stairs points. Then, the quadrangle would become an irregular pentagone, which would need an addition of two points that respect the ratio of 30% of extra space. I didn’t manage yt to calulate them, it is in progress.

Response Faceted tower

The new approach for the project would focus on several points :

- explore the whole range of possibilities and to which extreme it can go. By setting up some rules deriving from the analysis, such as solar considerations or ratio calculations of the extra space, the system would be able to adapt until a certain limit.

- Add more contrast to both the general shape and the subdivisions : Some spaces where big gesture would be allowed, some where the facade would stick to the original shape of the building ; some subdivisions that would create different shadows and different qualities of light / privacy.

- Dissolve the original shape of the building, break the monotony and massive aspect of the building.

- The establishment of some key points deriving from the context analysis in order to disolve the corner and add more geometry to the facets than a symple horizontal triangulation.


The first step would be to establish some main key points, deriving from the urban public space and its transplantation inside the building.


The building general espect would be analysed as a result of three main considerations : The upper part which would need a bigger gesture for the establishment of public space : it will be a matter of facet width and not an increasement of the general shape ; the middle part would be affected by a maximum of efficiency due to the office program ; the lower part which would be a result of the connection to the ground floor.


The ratio for the middle part would be the same for each floor and determined by 1 point deriving from the urban analysis and three other points helping acheiving a certain ratio (e.g : 20 %)

4. The grid by increasing the width of the subdivisions would help create a larger range of perceptions and light differenciations.

Faceted tower Presentation layout


The existing tower is stuck in between two contradictory aspects : on the one hand to remain discreet and on the other hand has the pretention of being an icon for the city. The result is a building neither integrated in the context neither expressive enough to pretend dealing with an iconic gesture. The monolithic aspect of the facade and the monotonous interior space decrease both the exterior and interior qualities of the building.
As a reaction to this problematic, the new skin proposes to connect the horizontal component of the city network with the verticality of the tower by maintaining and exploiting the potential of the passage as a social condenser : the user is brought directly into and up the building. Public space is not only surrounding the tower, it is being integrated to it as a continuous cavity connecting people together.

The existing structure is wrapped in a faceted skin in order to dissolve the monolithic shape of the tower. The relief, dimensions and strong identity of the facade transform the tower into an iconic object without neglecting the various needs and perceptions. It leads to a facade where each facet has a different densitiy and provides a hierarchy of scalar articulations that adresses the tower’s range of visibility from the inhabiting user to the long-view, from the neighborring buildings to the approaching ferries. It also sets a variety of illumination, enclosure and transparency conditions to create unique atmospheres depending on the program and the solar orientation.
In order to avoid the monotony of the interior space, the project supposes the appropriation of the space in-between the original and the new envelope. It lets room to the insertion of terraces, fire stairs and meeting areas. Technically, it makes use of the double-skin facade strategy to increase the environmental performance of the building.


The new envelope derives from the superposition of different layers. The primary structure is generated by an assembly of three dimensional steel trusses, attached to the existing slabs and columns to distribute self-weight and lateral loads. Secondary frames holding the glass elements work with primary facets to rigidify the system. The density of the frames is varied to adress illumination and privacy needs and to frame desirable views.
Due to the nature of the facet geometry, half of the facade is oriented away from the sun and receives limited incident solar radiation and heat gain while still providing daylight and view. The remaining facets which receive solar radiation have an additional external layer of expanded aluminum mesh to reduce heat gain and glare.

Areas of the south- and east-facing facets are ganged into vertical stacks and coupled with an interior curtain wall with operable windows forming continuous compartments over 3 levels. These compartments utilize the stack effect to exhaust hot air from the interior and reduce the load on the mechanical systems. Similarly in the cold season, air warmed in the plenum can be drawn into the interior through the operable windows.


x5 Faceted tower

The original tower is wrapped in an envelope that is adaptable and flexible. It provides an in-between space used for the creation of public spaces, fire stairs, terraces and double-skin climate system. The skin of the tower does not act like a barrier between the public space and the private space, but lets room for the establishment of more public areas inside the tower. Therefore, a continuous cavity goes through the whole building.

question : vray render

I tried to do a render with vray by applying some vray materials. First is there a way to do quick renderings without getting a perfect result in order to do som tests?

Then I had problems with the transparency. I applied a glass material and changed pretty much all the possible settings but it is still not transparent. I checked the tutorials on the web, but I still didn’t find any way to solve it. Does anyone has an idea what the problem could be?


Origami tower – structure

The skin of the tower derives from the idea of a folded plane. The facets of the skin vary in size and orientation.

The grid applied to each facet depends on the spatial orientation of the longest edges. Therefore, when the angle between the two edges is small, the visual connections to the outside is limited, whereas bigger openings are get by a large angle.

The structure can be seen as an independant element in 3 dimensions, composed of the triangulation of the edges : each of the sides converge to one point which is linked to the slabs. The system is made rigid by both the addition of vertical elements by using the support of the existing pillars and by the steel grid that supports the glass.

At the end, the structure acts as a whole  by creating more complexe stresses where each 3d unit is supporting itself as well as the whole system.

Some external elements would then influence the skin :

- The Skin would react to the sun by the application of a sun factor depending on both the orientation of the tower and the angle of incidence which derives from the inclination of the facets. Where sun protections are needed, an expanded aluminium mesh will be added according to the sun factor that would be evaluated.

- The views would be generated by a random factor in order to get a multiple orientation. Some bigger openings would be created, as well as perforated ones to provide some space for terraces.

As a result, the skin pattern would react on both the facets and the site.

Cape Sundew

piraeus transparent origami

The Building skin can be seen as a folded plane, compressed in the vertical direction. It is made through the juxtapostition of a basic origami pattern. This allows, as in the Siamese towers, some distance between the inside and structural core, and the outside volumetry.

A pattern will be applied to the skin, so that it will on the one hand protect from the sun, and on the other hand make views on the city and the see possible :  The goutside skin is covered by a grid which is regular. On the southern facade, the sides that point to the sky are made through the addition of another grid which is irregular and helps adding an extra layer to reduce the sun rays.

The section reveals the void in between, with two layers of glass, one on the existing structure, and the other at the back of the grid. At some points defined by interesting view points, this layer is deleted to allow the establishement of small terraces.

The openings for terraces are closed gradually, and not strictly on a line. Someof the openings remain close to the big one, so that the transition is made fluently.