Screenwalling in Architecture: trend from all around the world (Part I)

Screenwalling are decorative architectural elements that have very ancient origins, widely used in traditional constructions in both Western and Eastern cultures. They can be designed in several different materials, from the best known in wood and stone to the most modern in ceramic, steel and other metals. And their aesthetic is not merely decorative. Indeed, screenwalling are functional elements that help control ventilation and natural lighting.

In the 70’s and 80’s, screenwalling were largely used in popular architecture, as a functional, economical, and simple decorative solution. In architecture, especially in the design of common spaces, screenwalling were used for natural lighting and aeration of stairs, or as protection of balconies and terraces.

Arab World Institute

In recent decades, screenwalling have once again dominated the panorama of contemporary architecture, demonstrating their functional and aesthetic importance. In 1987, the Pritzker Prize Jean Nouvelle designed the Arab World Institute in Paris. On this occasion, he transformed lattices into the protagonists of the façade. Fusing classic Arabic and contemporary styles, and playing with highly innovative materials and technologies, the steel and glass screenwalling are transformed into mobile diaphragms that react to the variation of outside light.

Congress Palace of Peñíscola

In 2003 the Congress Palace of Peñíscola designed by Ángela García de Paredes and Ignacio García Pedrosa was inaugurated. The facade screenwalling is realized with pieces made of ceramic that create shade and provide protection to the main access. At the same time, it constitutes the main sign of identity of the new building.

Photograph / Lluis Casals and Roland Halbe (source:

Lisbon Oceanarium

Screenwalling elements of the Lisbon Oceanarium are realized with the same material but with a completely different result. This project was designed by Campo Costas Arquitectos and built in 2012. In this case, the ceramic pieces have two functions: when they are opaque they are elements of the facade, when they are hollow they are closer to traditional screenwalling. 

In this way, the aesthetic continuity between two different construction systems has been achieved.

Facade of the ETS in Valencia

Finally, concrete screenwalling are the protagonists of the facade of the Telecommunications Engineering ETS of the Polytechnic University of Valencia, designed by Vicente Corell in 2010. The large size of the pieces is both the challenge and the distinctive element of this monumental project.

Whether steel, ceramic or concrete, all the lattices of these projects demonstrate the modernity, flexibility and elegance of this element. Not surprisingly, screen walls have always been a popular item. Although architectural styles and shapes have evolved over the years, the adaptable form and the ventilation function of screen walling make it an essential element in any architectural project.

Want to have more info about how to include screenwallings in your next project? In the next Blog post we will show you some models of SAS screenwalling.