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Mutable surfaces: evolution, entropy and weathering in architectural facades

Crystals growing on traditional construction materials. Mothilal, H. Unit 17. 2020.

Hanle Mothilal



Gregory Katz, Nico van Loggerenberg




This project deals with alternative methods of treating surfaces. It experiments with growing crystals on the surfaces of traditional construction materials. The incremental change of the crystal growth is documented, followed by documentation of the weathering of these surfaces when exposed to several elements of weathering such as sun, rain, wind and shade.

Society generally avoids topics such as ageing, entropy and decay. Introducing the term pseudomorphism derived from mineralogy reveals other terms such as encrustation, substitution and alteration that can be applied in architecture.

This leads to a part of the Discovery office building, in Sandton, which is substituted by a co-living and combined office space. The existing glass façade is completely repurposed, and the remainder of the façade is altered by introducing the surface treated with traditional construction materials.

Office buildings are becoming increasingly redundant because of the recent changes in lifestyle. This brings about new systematic, functional, aesthetical and economic challenges to the architectural profession. Can we change the perception of what society perceives as beauty on the facades of our buildings?