The use of texture in architecture can be as crucial a design element as any in the pursuit of aesthetic clarity. Just as the application of material, colour or surface geometry can more boldly express a building’s stylistic form, a considered incorporation of textural surface treatment can enliven an otherwise anonymous façade.
A seemingly passive texture can also be transformed by the active play of light and shadow across a façade as the sun and clouds interact throughout the day. This kind of effect recently drew my attention to a city hotel building which I had previously taken little notice of. Rydges Hotel, on the corner of Exhibition and Little Bourke streets in Melbourne, is a fairly typical tower on podium structure dating from the 1980s. The façade is composed of expressed horizontal and vertical concrete beams which delineate the hotel rooms across all floors of the tower. Although of some textural interest themselves, it is when a shaft of light highlights a section of the façade at a particular angle that these forms are really expressed in a dynamic visual sense. Looking closely, the texture of the concrete itself now becomes more apparent, appearing as sawn and dressed lengths of timber.
So, a photo taken offhand on a casual stroll through the city reveals how both the use, and a more considered observation, of architectural texture can alter the appearance of a seemingly unremarkable built form.