Design Considerations and the Complex Facade

Kolon Future Research Park



Photo of Stan Su

Stan Su

Morphosis Architects



The design of complex, high-performance facades involves balancing attention towards principles of material selection, thermal and moisture protection, structural integrity, and durability. When these demands are coupled with the desire to create aesthetically interesting and “beautiful” skins, design teams may find themselves tasked with reconciling conflicting formal and performative drivers in the creation of an exterior envelope. The formal vision of a complex facade skin, for example, may not be appropriate for the climatic and site-specific realities of a given project location; material properties, compatibility, and interface will also often pose issues of concern. Technical designers will typically negotiate these challenges within the detailing of a given system. However, through the research and interrogation of given systems earlier in the design process, disparities between design considerations and technical drivers can lead to unexpected and innovative solutions.

This paper will present design and fabrication processes employed in the development of a high-performance complex facade for Kolon Future Research Park, a research laboratory building in Seoul, South Korea. The main facade of the building has been designed with the intention to serve as visually-striking, exemplary construct demonstrating the client’s commitment to innovation, technology, and sustainability. To achieve this design, a second skin of composite construction was developed using parametric design workflows and building performance analysis. Fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) was selected as the final material for the external sunshades, given the material’s durability, structural characteristics, and potential for plasticity in form. A monocoque sunshade assembly that challenges conventional formal notions of solar shading was developed for the project. The resultant body of the continuous outer skin is reflected in the glazed wall behind, to create visual complexity and tension amplified by the sense of weightlessness that the minimal support structure affords.


Kolon Future Research Park (Fig. 1) represents an investigation into the use of FRP in a bespoke, high-performance façade of complex geometry. The formal exploration and design of a bespoke

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Kolon Future Research Park is the new 76,300 m² R&D laboratory building for the Kolon Group, a leading textile manufacturer in South Korea. The corporation’s name, “Kolon,” is an amalgamation

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The design of the building was approached holistically with sustainability as a primary driver. Along with goals for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold from the U.S. and

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The west façade glazing system is a stick-built, floor-to-floor curtain wall, with insulating glass unit cassettes and external sunshades. The decision to proceed with a stick-built system was predicated upon

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Investigations and documentation early in the design process was initiated for the specialty glazing systems, fiber-reinforced concrete (FRC) cladding systems, and fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) sunshades. The local process, with regards

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Conclusion and Future Work

The design of the Kolon Future Research Park, was an investigation into the use of FRP in a bespoke, high-performance façade of complex geometry. A formal exploration into the design

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Sung-Soo Lim, Project Architect, Morphosis Architects

Nicole Meyer, Business Development & Communications, Morphosis Architects

Kerenza Harris, Director of Design Technology, Morphosis Architects

Atsushi Sugiuchi, Advanced Technology Group, Morphosis Architects

Neil Smith, Technical Support Manager, Composites One

Irene Martin, Senior Engineer, Arup Facade Engineering + Building Physics

Galen Burrell, Senior Engineer, Arup Lighting

Ian Bruce, Associate, Arup Advanced Technology + Research

Felix Weber, Associate, Arup Facade Engineering + Material Consultants

Guglielmo Carra, Senior Engineer, Arup Materials Consulting

Sung-Min Shin, Hankuk Carbon | Hankuk Advanced Materials

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