If you travel in certain circles, “tower skin” is a name for a vinyl slipcover one can use to dress up a drab computer desktop tower. In other circles, the term has come to describe a skin with a similar function, although for a slightly more ambitious goal: sustainable public architecture.
The latter kind of skin is a mesh textile “transparent cocoon” that can slip over the top of and effectively “re-skin” a building to not only improve its aesthetics but also, according to architects from the Laboratory for Visionary Architecture (LAVA), act as a “micro climate” that generates energy with photo‐voltaic cells, collects rain water, improves day lighting and uses available convective energy to power the towers’ ventilation requirements.” The skin has not yet gone beyond “concept land,” as Gizmodo put it, but if the architects have their way the prototype would cover the University of Technology Broadway Tower in Sydney, Australia.
Chris Bosse, LAVA’s director, goes on to say that “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.”
LAVA also figures it can fabricate and install the skins cost effectively and quickly by using standard, computer-generated components that are produced offsite, a potential process with implications that ought to make other architectural firms sit up and take notes.
Image source: LAVA