The Princeton Envelope Group (PEG) is a design and research unit at the Princeton University School of Architecture. Headed by Alejandro Zaera-Polo and coordinated by Urtzi Grau. The unit is engaged in a three year research program on the Politics of the Building Envelope the conclusions of which will be published in a forthcoming book by Actar Press, Barcelona+New York.


The face of a building is one of its crucial political devices. Faciality is the substance of expression. It is the material locus for signification and subjectification. Faciality reigns materially over the constellation of significances and interpretations. Dismantling or constructing the face is a political action involving real becomings. Breaking or building up through the wall of the signifier or getting out of the black hole of subjectivity. On the other hand, we have the Spectacle, a production of face/signification from an external projection/constraint. The modalities of the construction of faciality in the buildings are multiple and account for different political performances which we would like to discuss.

The relationship between the body of the building and its interfaces is one of the subjects that need to be reconsidered in the light of current cultural and urban developments. The overlay of automotion patterns over the pedestrian fabric and the urban sprawl have contributed to change the spatiality of the city, and one of the specificities of the contemporary city is the increasing attachment between buildings and their surroundings, and the loss of hierarchical frontalities. The faciality of buildings, once structured by a simple delimitation of back and front and performed through homogeneous compositions is now opened to more complex processes that produce more complex and gradated forms of faciality.