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BREATHING FACADE, Re-designing Stirling's Florey Building Facade

Oxford, United Kingdom


Project Description: Design Project 1, BArch University of Nottingham

Date: October 2013

Project Location: Oxford, United Kingdom

Studio: Year 2, Unit 1A 2013-2014

Tutors: Alisdair Russel, Stuart Buckenham  (Design Mentors)


This project was initiated as an investigation in James Stirling celebrated "Florey Building". This “modernist masterpiece” is considered to be a visionary example regarding its mass, space distribution and allocation, form and social experiment but at the same time it constitutes a failure in respect to its building technology. As a result our goal was to redesign its facade so as to solve the technicalities. Through our design we want to present a new facade that could control light and shadow, movement/adaption, sound, weight, permeability and the social identity of the initial motivations of the architect. 

The concept of the breathing facade is originated from the philosophy of HYLOZOISM, which incorporates the process of metabolism happening in living matters into the mechanism of machinery infrastructure. The eseence of our design is to express the mechanism of Florey building via adaptive issues. The facade design is basked on the fundamental principle of double-layer skin system with adaptive devices installed in cavity. The hot water ducts are fixed in each bubble-like device which emits the vapour to shade the window when light is on. The ducts are also used to trigger the rainwater, functioning as leaf veins of plants. In addition, the devices respond to the light and views around during the daytime. The painted foil applied on the surface of each bubble reflects surrounding views so that people outside cannot see through the window, however, it allows occupants to look clearly. 

The project was executed as a three week design competition where third year students would lead the design teams as well as the proposed concepts and second year students would provide a rigorous rationale research regarding the existing building and assist in the design phase and preparation of the presentation. Therefore, I was involved in the physical and digital model making, development drawings and verbal presentation of the project. The final renderings and presentation was made by third year students.


(Group Members: Year 3: Janko Todorovits, Yi Lu, Yialing Li, Year 2: Jacqueline Beracha and Electra Pangalou)


Please click on the thumbnails below to view the rest of the project.

Florey Building - James Stirling

Existing Situation 2013

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