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Research Through Design in Architecture

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The natural environment inevitably acts upon the buildings surfaces, destroying the materials. The impact of the natural forces and weathering is not always negative. It is possible to take advantages from the visual effects using staining, the aesthetic deterioration to make the buildings sightly. The theory is that the water running down may help create a patterned weather effect on timber facades. The aim of the research is to test several different styles of panels weathering and to choose the sightliest of them for further implementation of the idea in the projects.

Ability to take into consideration the possible visual effects produced by weathering and to choose the sightiest of them is an important quality of the present day architect. Weston (2003) noted that the qualities of the material and opportunities for their treatment are among the most important factors influencing the designer’s project at its starting point.

This research is aimed at developing the theme of the water detailing from the point of view of its encouraging role in creating the sightly visual effects on the designed buildings. The design studio is researching the way in which the temporality to timber facades can be enhanced. Numerous factors are taken into consideration, such as the factor of facades facing different cardinal points, chemical composition of the water, speeding the aging process during the experiment and the scale, with the purpose of approximating the conditions of testing to the conditions of real building weathering.

Mostafavi and Leatherbarrow (2005) emphasized the advantages of implementation of the water detailing on the facades, contrasting them to the impact of weathering on the ordinary facades: “These consequences are accentuated through the inadequate provision of projections for regulating the downward flow of water: sills, copings, downpipes, and similar details, a common inadequacy of “flat” facades” (p. 33).

On the first stage of the testing six timber facades with different styles in which the water runs them off were designed. The styles differed in the number, form and size of the holes through which the rain water was expected to run off. The façade A contained few smaller round holes, the façade B contained shorter elongated holes, the façade C contained longer but fewer elongated holes, the façade D contained few smallest round holes, the façade E contained numerous round holes of the average size, while the façade F was a comparison facade and contained no holes at all.

Seven days later staining appeared mostly on the panel with the numerous round holes of the average size, but by the tenth day of the testing all the panels showed signs of weathering through the water. The weathered effect became noticeable significantly by the sixteenth day of the testing. Through interviewing twelve independent experts, it was concluded that the sightiest effects were achieved in the façades B and E – the facades with the shorter elongated holes and numerous round holes of the average size – three and six interviewed preferred these facades correspondingly. The next stage was designing the two larger panels of the styles preferred by the majority of the interviewed.

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This time the parameters were more accurate, the panels were identical in size and show represent 2250 mm square from the building design at a scale of 1:5. Analyzing the weathering effects at this stage of testing, it should be admitted, that the effects on the panel B with the shorter prolongated holes were more natural compared to the weathering effects on the panel E with numerous round holes of average size.

The results of the testing are expected to be a significant contribution to the further design projects, enhancing temporality to timber facades choosing the style of façade for producing the sightliest weathering effect.


Mostafavi, Mohsen and Leatherbarrow, David (2005). On Weathering: The Life of Buildings in Time. Fourth Printing. Massachussetts Institute of Technology.

Weston, Richard (2003). Materials, Form and Architecture. Yale University Press.

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