Precast concrete or GRC

Recycling is a must. When recycling old brick walls, we tend to think that the recyclable element is the brick; we need to separate it from the rest of the elements and clean the mortar. It is cleverer to understand that a wall is much more than a brick, and thus, we can recycle it as panels! We reuse the small element, that is, the brick, and we benefit from the work of the craftsman of the time when the original building was erected. 

A light highly-prefabricated panel over a heavy handmade wall, a contradiction that works.
A heavy concrete panel will imply having mass on the outside of the thermal insulation, as those solutions are commonly insulated from the inside. If the objective is having this thermal inertia in the inner side of the insulation, the solution is good: a heavy interior wall insulated over its outer face and a low-weight panel so as not to overload the façade where it is not necessary.

I must confess I was really impressed when I saw those huge tile-cladded one-piece-high concrete panels. My doubt was whether they managed to resolve those panels that included windows in the same way? The joints between them seem to express that.

They maintain the same façade structure while its performance is improved by using in the renovation contemporary techniques and systems.

Prefabricated concrete panels that incorporate stone cladding are not something new. One example is the Hotel in Plaza España, designed by the architect Enric Garces, and built in 1990. However, we want to draw attention to the appropriateness of the solution today.

As we mentioned in the wake of the SBG Schönburg building in Bern, open-joint cladding is in crisis, not because of its performance, which nobody questions, but merely for formal reasons.

This rain screen façade clearly demonstrates evolution along the path to prefabrication. Both the interior and exterior layers are built with highly prefabricated dry systems and it is not so common to find such a massive solution. This enables the façade to loose neither its thermal inertia nor reduce the acoustic barrier.

The inner layer, which uses heavy concrete panels, is a very good option.

This residential building in Barcelona is highlighted on account of the overall strategy that has been used to solve this particular structural system. It is one of the first examples of the work of this team of architects that shows a design approach based on the optimisation of prefabricated elements according to a well organised arrangement of the floor plan.

The façade of the Renaissance hotel in L’Hospitalet has a peculiar thermal behaviour. It is based on retarding thermal loss with the concrete wall (thermal inertia), while minimizing the thermal difference between the two sides of this wall with a closed air cavity on its outer side. This closed air cavity has its thermal insulation improved by a reflective membrane coating one of its sides.

Renzo Piano provides several examples of interesting ceramic façades, despite the problems that some of them may have suffered over time.

The façade of Broadwalk House stands out for having exploited the potential of prefabricated concrete panels to the maximum.