Recent Trends in Architectural Design of Transparent Facades

Contemporary architectural transparency (understood as the optical property of the material) is constantly being redefined and, over the last decade, new design trends have developed related to transparent façades in architecture. Those trends are the result of dynamic technological progress and of the advancement in the field of materials science.

Transparency is no longer limited to specific functions(e.g. illumination of the interior), but has become a tool of formal expression itself. Apart from the standard understanding of transparency as the use of light-permeable materials in façade design one can find other innovative and creative interpretations. This paper defines and describes the most recent and distinct trends, including: (i) redundant transparency – which employs innovative techniques to enrich the spatial depth of the façade; (ii) veiled transparency – which postulates advanced obstruction of transparency; (iii) multilayered transparency – which creates complex and daylight-responsive detailing; (iv) regulated transparency – which uses modern technologies to turn facades into light-valves; (v) perceptual transparency – which achieves the impression of transparency without the use of light-permeable materials.

The paper presents the result of a large case-study of one hundred buildings, located mostly in Europe and built between 2006-2016.