Swiss office renovation features a sophisticated glass skin


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A new renovation and extension by the Société Privée Suisse de Gérance (SPG) features an intricate façade made up of four layers of glass. Designed by Italian firm Giovanni Vaccarini Architetti, the sophisticated building envelope provides a new aesthetic identity for the headquarters while achieving energy efficiency.

(courtesy Alex Filz)
  • Facade Manufacturer
    Stahlbau Pichler
  • Architects
    Giovanni Vaccarini Architetti; Fossati Architectes SA (Technical Department)
  • Facade installer
    Metal Glass Sagl
  • Facade consultants
    Stahlbau Pichler (facade consultant); BCS SA (facade); SIMOS (façade lighting design); Wintsch&Cie (structural, electrical and mechanical engineering)
  • Location
    Geneva, Switzerland
  • Completion date
    2017
  • System
    double skin curtain wall
  • Some products
    custom screen printed glazing slats with aluminum clips

The facade is composed of a double skin envelope, which allows natural ventilation of the envelope. A perimeter ventilation system combined with an interior forced air system reduces the building’s overall energy demand by addressing thermal extremes at the facade. Vertically oriented glass fins treated with a frit coating are used as a sunshade device. Stahlbau Pichler, the facade consultant for the project, worked with the architectural team to develop the steel structural components of the enclosure system that support the glass fins. The composition of glass and steel establishes a rhythmic composition that blurs the light reflections, the materiality and the profile of the building.

The façade system relies on repetition to produce these complex aesthetic effects. In a press release, director Giovanni Vaccarini said the team’s design process was inspired by weaving: “Weaving is the first stage of composition… weaving is a rhythm of signs, an abstraction of meanings , figures and suggestions.

Here, triple layer glazing provides thermal protection, while the fourth layer of glazing is staggered to establish a ventilated cavity space. Within the set, micro-perforated shades similar to Venetian blinds provide regulation of daylight. Outside the building envelope, the sunscreens are made of screen-printed glass. Stahlbau Pichler engineering has minimized visual distractions from the glass fin anchoring system. Their work also handled the glass weight of 100 tons, a major concern due to the structural constraints of the existing building.

(courtesy Alex Filz)

The effect of the facade can also be felt from the interior, where Vaccarini says the assembly produces what he called an augmented window. “From the outside, the ‘thick’ surface of screen-printed glass panels and steel becomes a volume and defines the very body of the architecture, the contours of which dematerialize into a pulsating material entity sensitive to color changes in the surrounding area,” Vaccarini said. . “Our perception of the building is constantly changing. The cross-visions that we have of it, from the inside as well as from the outside, produce a kinetic effect.

At night, the effect is intensified when the glass panels and edge profiles of the custom-profiled aluminum anchors are illuminated by a brilliant white LED lighting system designed by SIMOS. This graphic further softens the surface of the building’s perimeter, producing what architects call a visual reverberation effect.

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