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On October 21, 2017, ETEM organized an International Conference on Facade Engineering for the fourth consecutive year. This year's competition was quite interesting as it put together more than 650 specialists from the construction industry, architects and representatives of institutions who had the chance to meet the latest trends and concepts in the world architecture and façade engineering.

Among the international lecturers at the forum were the world-renowned architects of Andrea D'Antrassi , an associate partner at MAD Architects, the world's largest Chinese architectural bureau, Mathieu Meur from DP Architects, Steen Andersen from Henning Larsen Architects, Markus Prossnigg, a partner at Coop Himmelb(l)au, Takeyuki Katsuya from Nikken Sekkei’s team, and eng. Vladimir Marinov from Define Engineers studio.

He was a part of the creative teams at SANAA, Foster + Partners and Heatherweak Studio studios. The leading architects from the Bulgarian branch - Arch. Radomir Serafimov, Arch. Rositsa Bratkova, a partner at Aedes Studio and architect. Angel Zahariev from Studio A & A Architects together introduced  the trends and architectural solutions in native design.

Veneta Novakova, R&D Director at ETEM, introduced the company's policy regarding the global climate change and the growing necessity for more sustainable construction. She explained that over the last year, ETEM managed to create an Environmental product declaration (EPD) for its products with the help of with Denkstatt's consultancy.

"This document complies with the international standards and norms. It also provides precise information about the materials used for the product manufacturing process and details about the environmental impacts throughout its life cycle," Novakova explained further. Investors should keep track of all materials and products with environmental impact statements – they’ve got an additional advantage for the certification of buildings which are under green building standards.

DP Architects Technical Director, Mathieu Meur, shared his personal experience in designing and engineering skyscraper facades.  First, he began with the height of the building, which can define a building as a skyscraper, which is not constant. Rather, such buildings of varying height are considered skyscrapers in many countries "When designing a skyscraper, the wind speed is a significant factor that should be considered.  In fact, it increases its speed with each floor of the building," Mathieu Meur added.

Thus, it’s quite important to him to be able to test the wind with the help of special software. That way, he can determine its speed before he starts designing the facade.

“Trouble spots” may occur at various locations in the project – they can be either at the base and at some corners or in the center of the façade. When designing a skyscraper, the position of joint has to be taken into account.

So If we want to have floor-to-ceiling glazing, we must make the façade stronger. "The idea is to break free from any distortion of the façade. After all, buildings move through all the time and skyscrapers move twice as much as low-rise buildings, the expert from DP Architects explained.

The building design always brings the question about what kind of glass has to be used in the process. For this purpose, tempered glass has been used for more than 50 years as it gets broken into smaller pieces.

According to Meur, this glass can pose great danger at higher buildings when broken like this.  "Therefore, when designing high-rise buildings in places with high winds, hurricanes, and typhoons, we must reinforce the building. Fasteners and fittings, which are to be used in the façade, must be tested beforehand, he concluded.

The extraordinary architectural project - the BMW Welt Center - was also introduced at ETEM's façade conference. It’s a multifunctional car and exhibition center that  opened doors back in 2007 near the manufacturer's headquarters. Coop Himmelb(l)au's managing partner and Project Architect Markus Prossnigg also shared that the actual optimized ecological architecture that incorporates high-tech implementation methods stands behind BMW Welt Center’s original concept.

One of the core design ideas was to extend both the BMW Tower’s existing configuration and the museum with the help of a complementary element. Thus, a unique, spatial and identifying architectural ensemble can be created. Coop Himmelb (l) team’s architectural decision is focused on a large transparent hall with a sculptural roof and a double cone, accompanied by a connection to the existing seat of the company.

The transparent hall that embraces the silhouette of Coop Himmelb(l)au's futuristic projects, is covered with steel plates and glass. The team of architects, however, has got its own source of inspiration for it - the Acropolis in Athens. The BMW Welt’s main space resembles a covered square. "The large roof еencompasses various functions of the project. Also, there are built-in photovoltaic panels in the facade that are tightly linked to the metal elements of the facade.", Prossnigg explained.

Andrea D'Antrassi, or MAD Architects' associate partner, presented The Absolute Towers project - a huge twin tower skyscraper complex situated near Toronto, Canada. The design of The Absolute Towers does not accentuate the vertical lines, but the design that features a smooth, undamaged terrace, surrounding each floor of the building.

"We wanted the towers to be spinning towards the sky so the facade of the first tower follows its natural movements." The contour of the second tower, however, traces the secondary movements of the first tower, D'Antrassi explained. The facade of the towers is designed in such a way that the floor plate can spin in the range of 1 to 8  degrees to at each successive level, thereby offering amazing scenic views of the vast horizons.

The facade engineer, Mr. Steen Andersen at Henning Larsen Architects’s, revealed the architectural studio philosophy founded back in 1959. She explained that the creation of fine architecture is based on three dimensions - people, space, and daylight. "When designing, we shouldn’t forget that there are still people behind the desk in that building. So they should be provided with a healthy environment," Andersen said.

He also presented a few of Henning Larsen Architects' leading projects, like the 34-story Villas in the Sky in Saudi Arabia, the Harp Concert Hall, and the Reykjavik Conference Hall. The facades of the buildings in Iceland were created with quasi-bricks. "Each quasi-brick is made up of 10 profiles with different shapes and sizes, from which 10 other diamond shapes are created," Andersen explained. He also said that these 10 different profiles are put together by steel casting of different shapes so as to match the shape of the corners. There are even bolts and nuts made particularly for the facades of the projects.

The famous architect and general manager leading the Design division of Japan's giant Nikken Sekkei Takeyuki Katsuya presented the renovated architectural vision of Camp Nou based in Barcelona. He described the concept of the renovated Camp Nou in a few words - "eternity, equality, activity".

The architect finds it highly important to note that the stadium offers no external facade, and its natural “envelope” is actually the people walking around it. The stadium was designed with three large balconies which are like a pedestrian zone - a great space for walking and a whole lot of other outdoor activities.

"We’re striving to create an uncovered stadium open to the city so we’re focusing on the coexistence of the city of Barcelona.

“As a result, the project helps us keep the environment intact so the stadium can merge with the city," Katsuya said. Another sought-after principle in the reconstruction of the arena was the equality. The design of the stadium's stands is based on the principle of equality between people.  All sectors provide exactly the same conditions for enjoying the football game on the field. The new Camp Nou will host about 105,000 people while spanning over about 104,000 square meters.

The Structural Engineer, Vladimir Marinov, from Define Engineer presented designs and façade solutions from projects he worked on as part of architectural studio teams. According to him, architecture defines the needed technology to construct the structure, not the other way around. Arch. Marinov presented the sought-after complex solutions necessary for the completion of the three towers (Mary, Jesus, Evangelist) of the Barcelona Family Building. "We are looking for a brand-new structural solution for the towers" The decision of ARUP for the facade stone slabs is plain, yet quite efficient – we need to reinforce them with steel rods, " Marinov put in.

Architect Angel Zahariev, Studio A&A Architects spoke about the challenges of design and the interrelation between architecture and product design, plus the connection between architecture and technological acceleration. He introduced a project for the Sky Fort skyscraper, which is set to be one of the three buildings in the first stage of Sofia Capital City's large complex. The architectural solutions of ETEM will be selected again for the façade of the new highest building in Sofia.

Angelos Zografos, a technical consultant for Elval Colour, one of Europe's leading aluminum composite producers, said that the company hasn’t stopped developing its research and development in various fields. So it strictly monitors the development of technology, quality, and environmental standards too. It is particularly the result of these studies that the production of the new etalbond® A2 is being based upon. This material is a modern technological solution that meets the most stringent fire protection European standards EN 13501-1.

Zografos briefly concluded  that etalbond® A2 comes as an appropriate solution  to the public urge for endurable change and a positive effect in the creation of new-generation buildings and projects.

Partners of the event were also Elval Colour, BMW Bulgaria, Ursa and Inver

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