Striking fiber-reinforced plastic facade fronts new R&D facility
This new R&D facility by Morphosis was designed for South Korean textile specialist Kolon Group. It sports a distinctive shading system made from fiber-reinforced plastic, which is the same stuff used for bullet-proof vests, in construction, and elsewhere. The building also boasts significant sustainable design.
The Kolon One & Only Tower has a total floorspace of 820,000 sq ft (76,180 sq m), which is primarily shared between office and laboratory space, though there is a good chunk dedicated to employee social areas too.
It would be a fairly standard-looking building, if not for its remarkable west-facing facade. Bringing to mind London's US Embassy, this part of the building is shielded by a sunscreen made from interconnected fiber-reinforced plastic panels. The upper section folds outward to provide shading to glazed lower floors, too. The entire effect is really quite dramatic.
"The units of the sunshade are parametrically shaped to balance shading and views and are made from fiber reinforced polymer using one of Kolon's own high-tech fabrics, Aramid, to dramatically increase the material's tensile strength," says Morphosis. "One of the most notable features of the design is the lack of a visible support structures, allowing the sunshade to seemingly float outside the glazed wall and providing clear views from the interior spaces."
The Kolon One & Only Tower's ground floor is open to the public and is dominated by a 40 m (100 ft)-tall atrium that sports over 400 large panels showcasing the various fabrics that the Kolon Group produces. The area also features a large staircase inspired by Rome's Spanish Steps that doubles as an informal meeting space, as well as some flagship retail spaces and exhibition areas promoting the Kolon brand.
The Kolon One & Only Tower is slated for LEED Gold certification (a leading green building standard), as well as what Morphosis calls "the most rigorous sustainability certification in Korea."
Indeed, the green design in this one is pretty extensive. Bubble Deck Slabs were used during construction. Each concrete slab is filled with air-filled plastic balls, maintaining structural strength but reducing the amount of concrete required by 30 percent.
Other notable sustainable additions include green roof areas, solar panels, and the use of recycled materials. In addition, natural lighting and ventilation were a focus during the design process, and an efficient geothermal system with radiant underfloor heating helps maintain a comfortable temperature.