Bent by Chris Kabel
with Abbink X de Haas


Dutch designer Chris Kabel has wrapped this house and studio in Amsterdam with a facade of perforated hexagons that catches the light like a hanging sheet of fabric.

Bent by Chris Kabel

Kabel was approached by architecture studio Abbink X de Haas to collaborate on a building exterior that would relate to the history of the area, which is within the city's red light district but is also associated with the textile industry. "This was the area where wool and cloth were dyed in the sixteenth and seventeenth century, in fact one of Rembrandt's paintings depicts the people that worked here," the designer told Dezeen.

Bent by Chris Kabel

After considering a series of laser-cut screens, Kabel instead decided to use sheets of aluminium with perforated sections.

Bent by Chris Kabel

"With these industrially produced aluminium plates you can punch out a shape, then afterwards you can still bend the perforations, so then it can either catch light or cast a shadow," he said. "If they are bent upwards they reflect the light and bending downwards they become darker pixels."

Bent by Chris Kabel

Above: photograph is by Luuk Kramer

Using this technique, the designer was able to replicate a pixellated image of a curtain by twisting over a million of the perforated hexagons using a custom-made tool.

Bent by Chris Kabel

"On the back of the panel there was either a mark or not a mark," revealed Kabel. "If there was a mark you had to bend it upwards and if not then you bent it downwards, so actually everything was completely predetermined."

Above: photograph is by Luuk Kramer

Each aluminium sheet is also powder-coated to keep the facade white. "It had to be white because in Amsterdam all of the houses from the canals were always painted white to get as much light as possible into the inner courts," said Kabel.

Bent by Chris Kabel

The textured panels cover the entire wall and even form shutters over the windows and doors.

Bent by Chris Kabel

"We made a maquette a long time ago where we punched paper from two sides with needles. If you look now at the building it looks exactly the same as this punched paper. It really has an almost textile feeling to it," he said.

Bent by Chris Kabel

Chris Kabel is a professor at the Design Academy Eindhoven and also at the Ecole Cantonale d’Art in Lausanne. See more projects by Kabel on Dezeen.

Bent by Chris Kabel

Other buildings we've featured with perforated metal facades include a set of decorative steel gates and a golden library.

See more projects with perforated metal facades »

Photography is by Hans Peter Föllmi IC4U, apart from where otherwise stated.

  • Ant

    Rather than woollen cloth, the facade screens make the building look like a polystyrene cube. Nice result though, particularly at night.

  • Really imaginative and risky project. Very good composition of the volume with this special and personal skin in front. The game between light and shadows is very evocative and attractive.

  • Phil

    It looks like a low-resolution GIF.

  • Donkey

    I’m curious about the “custom tool'” used to bend the hexagons. Was it a stick?

    • pionimero

      Hope I could bend it myself with my finger. I wonder if this possibility would be nice for users.

  • Jonathan

    This was really nice the first time we did for it Virginia Tech’s Lumenhaus w/ Zahner.

    • man

      The Lumenhaus is also a very nice project. But the main aspect that differentiates these two projects is the enviroment in which it is applied. This one shows an understanding of its context and plays with its codes in a beautiful and poetic way. This is in fact a very good work.

  • dan

    What about cleaning this surface? And it’s such a pity that we can’t see some photos of how this steel curtain filters the view from the inside.

    • Far too seldom the creators of buildings consider how they will look a year later.

      • Nathaniel Jernigan

        Well this wouldn’t be one of them. Pretty easy to clean metal with a pressure washer. Although the painted metal is going to deteriorate. They should have just done it with stainless steel.