Brick wall

It is a great pleasure sharing this amazing example of good architecture with all Facad3s followers. No formal boast, no last generation materials, no added gadgets for energy production, no raw land or straw; it manages to be attractive by being clever and sustainable by being reasonable. Uses local materials in an efficient way and, among other design aspects, articulates an ingenious façade, thick enough to host big openings that are resolved in different planes and with various materials according user’s needs.

What is hidden behind this ceramic tile cladding in the form of bricks? A thermal insulation material fixed over a real brick wall. The cladding, far from trying to cheat us, exhibits the fact that it is not even self-bearing thanks to a peculiar “rigging”. The ETICS façade systems allow many other finishing materials in addition to renderings. It is only a matter of weight, flexibility and adherence.

The new building for the Dexeus Institute in Barcelona is one of the cases in which the openings completely divide the façade into horizontal strips. The façade is thus not mechanically interrupted by the main structure but by the openings. On each floor, the parapet made of reinforced brickwork is supported on the slab and stabilized against horizontal loads fixed to the pillars, while the wall above the window hangs inserted in a steel structure from its upper slab. The horizontal strip of openings needs to allow for differential movements of each part of the façade.

The Inbisa Tower case study permits us highlighting those subtle design strategies that make a building with four apparently identical facades be so suggestive.

The Hotel Omm facade seems to us an interesting case study in many regards. It was a wise strategy to orient the openings towards the main avenue, Passeig de Gràcia, thus avoiding prying eyes from the building on the opposite side of the street as well as direct solar gain. Also, the bold materialization of this strategy involved transforming the outer layer of a rain screen façade into a series of lightweight walls that emerge from the façade as fish scales.

In this case study we want to emphasize the constructive solution applied either in the facades as in the roof: an ETICS system coated with ceramic tiles. External thermal insulation construction systems have come to stay. Like the ventilated façade, these systems allow the complete continuity of the thermal insulation in front of the structure. The great difference is that, if the majority of ventilated façades clearly show the breakup due to the open joints, in the case of ETICS with a ceramic coating, the grouting permits making the joints practically imperceptible.

This mixed-use complex apparently resort to the use of ceramics to integrate the building into a historic industrial district that still conserves 19th-century architecture - 22 @, Barcelona. However, using a specific material is not enough to consider the building integrated into a context. The material is not simply matter; it is a format, a constructive technique and a system.

With this project we want to exemplify the scarce use of materials with which HArquitectes resolve their architecture, and therefore their facades. In this occasion, only two materials: thermal insulation and perforated brick (gero). If in the interior wall, the structural support, the brick is arranged in a suitable way so as to resist the loads transmitted by the slab; in the outer wall, the same brick is arranged rotated showing its perforated surface, therefore, allowing the chamber between the two walls to be ventilated.

Facades formed by double walls present the problem of possible condensation of the water on the cold side of the insulation. This problem is hardly solvable when it is committed to preserve the water vapor diffusivity of the whole enclosure. The outer wall will hardly dissipate water vapor before it condenses. Harquitectes solve this problem in this house in Sant Cugat by means of punctual microventilations, allowing them to escape from the traditional image of cavity wall. Rainwater tightness is entrusted to the characteristics of the outer ceramic layer. 

The façade of the Sant Jordi student residence building is characterized by the continuity of the zinc sheet. This sheet covers the opaque wall as well as the windows, in this second case as an exterior shutter. The façade escapes from the verticality by means of a discreet but sufficient gesture. Both strategies, material and geometry, make the set stand out in a medium-high-class residential context, characterized by ceramic brick buildings.