LAVA: tower skin
LAVA: tower skin
feb 09, 2010

LAVA: tower skin

‘tower skin’ by LAVA




international architectural firm LAVA has developed a simple, cost effective, easily constructed skin that promises to transforms aged 1960’s buildings in sydney, into sustainable, iconic buildings.


‘a speculative project, ‘tower skin’ for the university of technology (UTS) broadway tower in sydney, australia 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.

LAVA: tower skin close up of the UTS building with ‘tower skin’




‘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.

LAVA: tower skin illuminated in the evening

LAVA: tower skin





‘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 post industrial abandoned buildings across hong kong. we can quickly and cheaply enhance their performance and aesthetics through this minimal intervention.’


sustainability is at the heart of the project. 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

LAVA: tower skin

LAVA: tower skin

LAVA: tower skin the UTS tower skin during the day

LAVA: tower skin

LAVA: tower skin view from above

LAVA: tower skin ‘reskinning’ applied to goulburn st parking, in sydney


plans for ‘tower skin’ are on display at ‘state.respond’ exploring sustainable design object gallery, sydney now until 28th march, 2010

  • Metaphors come to mind… “jolly green giant punching its way out of a plastic bag”, “enbalmer’s folly”, “history trying to escape a future”, “extinction by suffocation”, “urban shroud”, “recycling bag”… come on you cartoonists, can we better the “mating turtles” for the Sydney Opera House cover Arch in Austr.

    We had architectural science, construction, services,… in our training but now the so called “designers” have degraded a purposeful living architecture to pseudoscience with many textbooks and research papers that are selfevidently untrue. I have over 100 publications trying to correct these things. Same goes for the global warming, CO2 pollution!!! (we breathe it to live) and carbon footprinting garbage. Remember the old idiom “form follows function” or “express the materials/ structure/ use/… as they are”. We were supposed to design with a lasting economy of expression, means, operation and maintenance for OUR clients (not us). This was my professional understanding as a FRAIA.

    John Halldane says:
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