Brick wall

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. Consequently, the façade is not mechanically interrupted by the main structure but by the openings.

The Inbisa Tower case study enables us to highlight the subtle design strategies that make a building with four apparently identical façades so suggestive.

The façade is organized from several overlapping grids. Pillars and slabs cladded in aluminium create the main order: a grid on the scale of the structural system. Over this grid, some mullions define a second order on the scale of the windows. This second order runs literally over the first grid, regardless of whether what is behind is blind or transparent, breaking the rigidity and scale of the main order.

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 construction solution applied on the façades and the roof: an ETICS system coated with ceramic tiles. 

This mixed-use complex apparently resorts to the use of ceramics to integrate the building into a historic industrial district that still conserves nineteenth-century architecture: 22@ in Barcelona. However, the use of a specific material is not enough to consider that a building is integrated into a context.

Material is not simply matter: it is a format, a construction technique and a system. What emerges from all this is a character of place that transcends the material.

Here we aim to exemplify the careful use of materials with which HArquitectes resolve their architecture, and therefore their façades. On this occasion, only two materials are used: thermal insulation and perforated brick (gero). In the inner wall, the structural support, the brick is arranged in such a way as to withstand the loads transmitted by the slab. In the outer wall, the same brick is rotated to show its perforated surface, which ventilates the cavity between the two walls.

Façades formed by double walls may suffer from condensation of water on the cold side of the insulation. This problem is difficult to solve when the aim is to preserve the water vapour diffusivity of the entire enclosure. The outer wall will hardly dissipate water vapour before it condenses. HArquitectes solved the problem in this house in Sant Cugat by means of regular microventilations, which escape from the traditional image of a 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 and the windows; in this second case as an outer shutter.

The façade escapes from verticality with a discreet, but sufficient, gesture.