Form as expression of emotionality

With his striking buildings, the internationally renowned architect Hadi Teherani characterizes cityscapes in Germany and abroad. His comprehensive design approach also becomes apparent in the context of facades. According to Teherani, a “perfect“ facade is not only functional but also emotionally attractive – and thus is far more than just the shell of a building. On the occasion of the BAU 2017 trade fair at Munich, he and his company Hadi Teherani Design created an impressive presentation setting for the building material of ceramics in general and ceramics for facades in particular in the central area of the stand of AGROB BUCHTAL. That is why we were talking with him about modern building shells and the possibilities offered by ceramics in this field of application.

  1. The shell of a building decisively contributes to the formation of its identity. What is essential for a “perfect facade“ in your opinion?

The image of the building in the streetscape manifests the content of the architecture and the demands made on it. Thus, the facade not only provides the necessary structural-physical protection but also expresses the complex architectural objective in combination with the shape and the openings of the building. A passer-by which has no opportunity to see the interior of the building can get an impression of what is going on behind the facade. The quality in the interior becomes visible and perceptible by the outward appearance. Thus, the demands made on the facade comprise the entire, comprehensive spectrum of architecture.

  1. Can you explain on the basis of one of your projects which part the facade design plays in your work?

There is no logical separation between the different design and planning phases. Already at the time of the very first ideas, the facade is also involved, just as first visions concerning spatial configuration and interior design. Like in a musical composition, individual passages cannot be temporarily excluded for dealing with them later. The only thing that varies in the different project phases is the intensity of dealing with them. In the case of “Tanzende Türme” at Hamburg, the facade had to reflect the dynamism of the building as if it had been exclusively made for that. In the case of “Kranhäuser” at Cologne, the task was right from the start to visualize the different typologies of the multi-storey buildings, but also the overall effect of the three-part ensemble.

  1. Your work is based on a comprehensive approach including the architecture, the details as well as individual design products which you are developing on the basis of the respective architecture. How do you plan a facade in your office?

With the first conceptual idea, it is clear from the beginning in which direction we want to develop the facade. The concept is derived from the interior design and the urbanistic context. Especially the materials used on the facade must reflect the existing environment. This does not mean that adaptation is the only right solution. Variation and contrast are further appropriate possibilities, provided that the concept offers the conditions for that on the basis of the task definition.

  1. As regards the choice and the use of materials at the facade design – whether classic, traditional materials or modern, unusual solutions – there is an immense variety of alternatives today. In which materials and functions are you particularly interested at the facade planning?

New materials are always interesting. The progress in the development of the materials opens up new creative scope at the design. Every architect and designer is fascinated by that. Glass, whose transparency is adjustable, reduces the heat input to a minimum. Corian permits a new kind of discreet aesthetics and a subtle illumination. In the case of ceramics, I am fascinated by its three-dimensional structures, surfaces, colours and textures. This material offers undreamed-of possibilities for designing the portion of closed facade surfaces, which necessarily is the greater one for reasons of energy efficiency.

  1. Which premise does apply in connection with facades in your opinion? “Form follows Function“ or “Function follows Form“? Or in other words: do you primarily focus on creative aesthetics or do you attach importance to functional quality and the integration in the urban or rural environment?

In contrast to the artist, the architect always has the task of giving the functional requirements of everyday life a form and an environment. If one is looking for a short definition for this, it can only be “Form follows Function“. Despite that, importance must also be attached to the form, to emotion, effect and identity. Identity-forming buildings require a clearly defined, comprehensible architecture with functional advantages, but above all with an emotional effect. That is why convincing architecture always is form as expression of emotionality.

  1. Techniques such as digital printing open up amazing and almost unlimited aesthetic possibilities. This also and especially applies to ceramic facades. Do you prefer project-specific special productions or do you also work with high-quality standard solutions, or can you imagine a “harmonious co-existence“ of both schools of thought?

This always depends on the respective situation and task definition. The possibilities of the standard solutions already provide immense design scope down to the details. Thus, it is not always necessary to work with an absolute novelty or special production. Sometimes, however, it suggests itself to further develop the possibilities of the material if a particular building project or situation gives reason to this.

  1. For BAU 2017 trade fair at Munich, Hadi Teherani Design created an impressive presentation setting for the building material of ceramics in general and facade ceramics in particular in the centre of the stand of AGROB BUCHTAL. Why are you so fascinated by this material?

With its pre-elementing and its stony look, ceramics conveys the tectonic approach of architecture in a particular way. It is a durable, hard and very resistant material of high haptic value, but nevertheless very genuine and natural.

  1. Within the framework of this presentation, you were intensively dealing with raw materials for the production of ceramics, their processing as well as the diverse end products. Which new aspects and facts could you discover with regard to ceramic facades?

I was surprised by the variety of methods for the production of ceramic facades and the completely different look created in this way. The spectrum extends from plane large formats to structured profiles and on to special individual forms. Besides the rough clay look, the range of surfaces also includes coloured glazed solutions in different degrees of gloss or sophisticated printed designs.   

  1. Are there certain types of buildings or “situations“ for which you could imagine ceramic facades?

Especially in the case of large closed surfaces of museums, shopping worlds and residential buildings, ceramics permits to return to filigree segmentation and proportionality, which often gets lost at big “monumental“ projects. To me, however, this material also owes its special charm to its noble, particularly demanding and durable character.

  1. Ceramics is one of the oldest materials at all. At the same time, it is a highly innovative material which is used, for example, in the aerospace industry and stands out thanks to special characteristics. Which potentials do you see for the use of ceramics in the building sector in the future?

Sustainability will continue to be the main subject of our time. The natural and durable ceramic material has excellently proved itself in this respect. Its great potential for realizing free, innovative structures and surfaces even permits highly individualized designs. A particularly interesting feature in my opinion is the “HT“ coating of Agrob Buchtal, which eliminates air pollutants and thus turns every building into a kind of “vertical urban forest“. Because it is the architect’s task to find comprehensive solutions and to attach equal importance to urban development, ecology, economy, identity and emotion.

cThe interview was conducted by EINSATEA, Berlin (Katharina Sommer).