New Functions of the Surface. Pushing the Urban Envelope


An Enquiry Programme examining new functions of surfaces, shells, skins and façades in the urban context

New Functions of the Surface: Pushing the Urban Envelope considers the city as a sequence of layers and conducts investigations using ANCB’s cross-sectoral enquiry methodology. This research on the cities’ envelope, surfaces and spheres includes and goes beyond façades, roofs and pavements. It serves as a starting point for a societal, technological, cultural and infrastructural analysis as well as a projection into the future.

To display the full potential of the city’s surface, innovation and experimentation need to connect to social, environmental and political relevance. Surfaces have brought many new aspects and questions into the conversation on urbanism in terms of comparisons and examples. Resembling the immune system’s ability to recognize and change according to a virus or other invasion for example, we might be able to train a surface design process to adapt. The surface can also negotiate what is needed for human comfort and help finding out if is this something that all people have in common. Furthermore, surfaces tend to be flexible on various levels, therefore the dynamics and aspect of time and temporality are important. Space will always be branded by a group, a function or a possibility: Street art for example is an approach to reconfigure the urban surface.

What implications does this have? Who is the buildings’ and therefore the surfaces’ user? Can the surface be a zone of friction and interaction between private and public? Can there be a niche for specific tools for maintenance, a so called 'façade cosmetics'? As a means for interaction, we may ask what the façade can do for the city?

Design Studio. Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology: Folding Berlin
23 July - 3 August 2018

Lab Talk and Round Table: New Functions of the Surface. Pushing the Urban Envelope with Schüco, Bielefeld
9 September 2017
Video Recording

Book Presentation. From a Vertical Forest to a Forest City. Almut Grüntuch-Ernst in conversation with Stefano Boeri
16 March 2016

Lab Talk. Materialien für smartes Licht with TSB Technologiestiftung Berlin and Haute Innovation, Berlin
29 October 2013

Lab Talk. Innovative Werkstoffe für die Energiewende: Energy Materials in Design und Architektur with TSB Technologiestiftung Berlin and Haute Innovation, Berlin
13 March 2013

Collaborative Project. Design and Politics: the next phase #2 On the Surface of Architecture? with Henk Ovink, The Netherlands Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, The Hague
28 July 2011
Video Recording

Lecture. More Than Green! The Added Value of Cradle to Cradle in Architecture and Urban Planning with William McDonough, William McDonough + Partners / MBDC, Virginia/USA
9 March 2011

Metro Lab. TouchHouse. Smart Living - Communicating Surfaces with Busch-Jaeger, Lüdenscheid
3 - 6 February 2011



Concept Paper

Miriam Mlecek, [email protected]


ANCB Partners 2020

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