Fluid Facades: Creating Movement in Architecture With Curtains
Curtains can provide a freer and more dynamic flow in architecture. These elements are usually intended to protect the interior from sunlight or create visual privacy, but they are also used as decoration or as room dividers. Since they are very movable and flexible, curtains are becoming a popular choice for architects and interior designers, creating layers between interior and exterior spaces that transform the environment through light and shade. Here, we have gathered some examples of projects that use curtains, particularly in the facades, showing how this solution can affect the overall impression of the design.
Making architecture less stiff is quite challenging, but light materials, such as fabric, can add more motion and new possibilities to the facade. But lighter elements, such as fabric, can add more movement and possibilities to the facade, as seen in the Terrassenhaus Berlin, designed by Brandlhuber + Emde, Burlon + Muck Petzet, or in the Casa Lara, by Felipe Hess, which features a canvas curtain box on the top floor, crowning the volume that contains the water tanks and the barbecue.
Other examples include the Pop-In, Pop-Out, Pop-Up, a collapsible street cinema in Venice, with an adjustable curtain mechanism that promotes changeable intimacy, dictating the visibility of the activity within from the outside. And speaking of privacy, the Chapel of Silence also features a curtain that regulates the levels of intimacy with the outside as required by the visitors. The curtain can be completely closed, creating a more private environment for prayer, or completely open to connect with the natural surroundings.
In Australia, architects at Matt Gibson Architecture + Design designed a series of canopies at different heights and extensions for the Hiro-En House, through sun and shadow simulation, to accommodate an external curtain, allowing great flexibility to welcome the northern sunlight as well as protect against the heat and glare from the west. The woven stainless steel mesh curtain can completely wrap around the northern and western perimeters of the outdoor deck, protecting the house from the rain while also working as a sunscreen on hotter days.
Curtains are often used in installations because of their lightness and transparency, like in the AntiRoom II, in which the flowy fabric enhances the effect of floating and instability, or in the Beyond the Wind Pavilion, with its colorful and playful transparent plastic curtains that reflect different colors on the floor, transforming the environment.
Facade curtains increase the design possibilities and add movement to architecture, but most of all, they can greatly impact the interior feel of the building. There are endless options of fabrics and textures that can stand out in the design, however, when it comes to facades, it is important to choose low-maintenance materials that are long-lasting, weather-resistant, and fireproof, to ensure longevity and safety to the project.