H2O by Axis Mundi


H20 by John Beckmann

New York architects Axis Mundi have designed a retrofit façade for an office building in Barcelona that replicates rippled water.

H20 by John Beckmann

Designed for a bottled water brand, the facade will be made of a polymer composite and suspended on a steel truss attached to the existing building.

H20 by John Beckmann

Here's some more information from the architects:

Barcelona, Spain

(New York, NY) 2010 – Our firm has been retained to propose a facade retrofit for h2o, which is a new bottled water company that has ambitious plans to distinguish their innovative brand.

H20 by John Beckmann

The existing six-story building is situated on a busy intersection in Barcelona, close to Antonia Gaudi’s residential masterpiece – the Casa Mila.

The concept for the new façade is based on the interference patterns that are created by the flow of water surfaces. In physics, interference is the addition (superposition) of two or more waves that result in a new wave pattern.

H20 by John Beckmann

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We documented, categorized and studied light reflecting off the surface of flowing water in various conditions: in rivers, streams and ponds, for example. We ultimately selected an image that visually appealed to us – subtle ripples in a pond. That photographic image was then imported and modeled into a very precise 3d form, we cut sections and derived numerous wave shaped lines which we then placed around the perimeter of the building envelope. These sections were lofted between each other forming a rippled skin that we could control and adjust. The new skin was then duplicated and shifted slightly, and where they interpenetrated each other they formed overlaps, these intersections were then removed to create flowing shaped openings in a dramatic brise-soleil made from a phenolic composite material. This secondary skin acts as a highly identifiable marketing symbol for h2o.

H20 by John Beckmann

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Taking a cue from Gaudi, the interior of the building is pierced with two elliptically shaped voids that allow natural daylight to filter down into the offices.

H20 by John Beckmann

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The secondary façade which acts as a brise-soleil, is made from a phenolic composite material, and is suspended in front of the main building facade on organically shaped web trusses.

H20 by John Beckmann

Axis Mundi is an interdisciplinary design studio based in New York. http://axismundi.com

Design: John Beckmann
Design Team: John Beckmann, Ronald Dapsis and Masaru Ogasawara
Renderings and diagrams: Ronald Dapsis

Total sq. ft.: 120,000
Major Materials: Standard concrete construction, glass and aluminum facade, phenolic composite, and steel

© 2010 Axis Mundi

Axis Mundi Design LLC.
315 West 39th Street, suite 805
New York, NY 10018

See also:


Ark House
by Axis Mundi
486 Mina El Hosn
by LAN Architecture
architecture stories

Posted on Tuesday June 22nd 2010 at 12:41 pm by Ruth Hynes. Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • edward

    The concept of building as advertising is not new as the Pig Stands fast food eatery in shape of a very large pig in thirties Texas and others show. but some how I like to think of architecture as having to do with structure, function, materials, and methods But the wrap around concept is popular now and in retrofitting has validity. To me this example is too descriptive of the company’s business to be taken as architecture.

  • angry catalan

    Barcelona virtually had no postmodernism back in the 80s, besides some buildings by Tusquets and Bofill. It’s sad that tacky literal quotes are biting us in the leg 25 years later. Horrible duck, man.

  • FEW

    I really admire how they’ve used the facade to focus all of the views from the interior outward through the the greatly reduced areas of transparency. I love a sexy form just as much as the next architect, but please stop destroying the experience of space by stroking your own egos! I’m sure the employees will enjoy their new view of the trusswork (conspicuously absent from the renderings) and the back of a facade.

  • ken

    Is that BP’s new World Headquarters?

    Looks like an oil slick to me. All that’s missing is a dirty pelican stuck in the fenestration.

  • D

    i really like the facade, would like to see some plans and sections of the building.

  • J

    I’m feeling nostalgic for the days when water was water, architecture was architecture, and both were content to forgo mimicking each other.

  • andrew

    I’ll switch to tap water then. No billboard facades needed for that.

  • Jonathan House

    Not that it’s any huge deal, but either the image of water or the resultant height field looks upside down. I do enjoy this kind of use of the tool though!

  • doooke

    I don’t think it comes off as tacky. Even though it’s interpretation is quite literal, it’s still an interesting form and not overbearing.

  • Hamad Sultan

    Looks like the building has been covered in a giant hefty garbage bag.

  • me

    Great! The watery effect is fantastic! Do I sound too enthusiastic? Probably I like it very much. Because it’s on a corner, it does not affect the surrounding buildings negatively. Once again, marvelous, well done.

  • More plastic- just like the bottles they fill. Is this the best a 21st Century company can come up with, in this age of responsibility? I’d rather see the cost put into drilling wells for water starved villages.
    But that’s just me.

  • This is amazing!

  • robert in lala land

    a very attractive solution that can turn any banal building into something quite spectacular-kudos on his one.

  • Tzvi Braun

    Do we really need this kind of banal ideas ?
    It looks like plastic,
    It is plastic and somebody will need to clean it also.

    pd: water isn’t static.

  • Johnathan

    I’m shocked with the unsophisticated ideas going around… Stop striving to only be different, that’s so weak…

  • Obviously it’s too literal. I wonder if the Retrofit Proposal will really work.

  • terry

    no photos of interior? would love to see how the interior space respond to the facade.

  • charengai

    toyo ito did this just down the street for versace/prada/gucci. making a unique facade in the eixample isn’t difficult – it’s simply marketing but how does this benefit the city or its people?

  • Zino Davidoff

    Given that this is a facade ONLY, installed onto a pre-existing building, I have to say this is an excellent solution. I don’t care for the bottled-water industry, but if it must exist then this skin is an entirely appropriate and architectural response.

    It would appear to be extremely cost-effective, and is already clearly generating publicity for the building and its owners. Suggesting that this is somehow not architecture is being naive and narrowly defining the term to a point of meaninglessness.

    Is it “important” architecture? No. Is it a successful solution to an architectural problem? Yes.


  • lost.arch

    so… extrude a box in maya, subdivide, delete a couple faces, and hit smooth (no need to consider material thickness). what happened to rigorous investment into iterative architectural solutions?