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    VIDEO: UTS tower to get glowing eco-skin

    Gemma Battenbough

    UTS Tower, Goulburn Street Car Park and other 1960s Sydney icons could receive a much-needed facelift, thanks to a new, innovative ‘reskinning’ technique.

    Multinational architectural practice, Laboratory for Visionary Architecture (LAVA), has developed a simple, cost-effective, easy-to-construct skin for the University of Technology (UTS) Broadway Tower that promises to transform an icon into a sustainable and stunning building.

    “The speculative project, ‘Tower Skin’, offers a unique opportunity to transform the identity, sustainability and interior comfort of the once state-of-the-art building,” Chris Bosse, Australian director of LAVA, said.

    Tower Skin is a transparent cocoon that acts as a high performance ‘micro climate’. It generates energy with photo-voltaic cells, collects rain water, improves day lighting and uses available convective energy to power the towers’ ventilation requirements.

    The tower is wrapped with three-dimensional lightweight, high-performance, composite mesh textile. Surface tension allows the membrane to freely stretch around walls and roof elements, achieving maximum visual impact with minimal material effort.

    As day turns to night, Tower Skin will become a dynamic sculpture on the Sydney skyline and an intelligent media surface, communicating information such as performances and campus events in real time.

    The proposal integrates principles of architecture, fashion, media and communication design into a new hybrid solution.

    “A re-skinned UTS Tower could be an example of sustainability, innovation, cutting edge design and creative education, without demolishing and rebuilding the 1960s icon,” Bosse said.

    When it was built, the Broadway tower was cutting edge, with latest building technologies and principles that have partially become obsolete.

    “The reskinning technology could be easily applied to other buildings in need of a facelift such as the post-industrial abandoned buildings across Hong Kong and elsewhere. We can quickly and cheaply enhance their performance and aesthetics through this minimal intervention.”

    LAVA has also proposed a transformation for the Goulburn Street Car Park in the CBD.

    Sustainability is at the heart of the project and innovations include:

    • Existing solar energy used to off set energy requirements.

    • Water collected from the atmosphere.

    • Energy peaks removed via ‘microclimate’ in tower envelope.

    • Natural convection draws conditioned air through existing rooms, vent to the exterior, to generate energy.

    • Localized user control of air and temperature.

    • Standard computer designed and generated components manufactured off site and cutting edge digital workflow mean cost-effective fabrication and installation time.

    • A solar powered light and media strategy embedded into the fabric.

    Plans for Tower Skin are on display at STATE. RESPOND. Exploring Sustainable Design exhibition at Sydney’s Object Gallery, from 6 February to 28 March 2010.

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