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.

In the case of this building, and attending only to the facade solution, we want to draw attention to two things:

The building for the student’s residence at Campus Diagonal uses two different façade systems: the first, ETICS, solves water tightness thanks to the impermeability of the rendering; the second, rain screen, uses an open-joint outer sheet and the drainage of the cavity.

This building, and its facade, could easily go unnoticed. It is correct, without bragging.
However, we wanted to draw attention to a very specific and pedagogical aspect. Even though the two façade systems being used are both formed by two sheets and a cavity in the middle, their behavior is very different. 
The outer layer made of flat plates with open vertical joints allows the entry and exit of air and water to and from the cavity through the joints. It is a ventilated and drained facade. 

An excellent proposal for solving a façade composition with a rectangular format checkerboard pattern (the different areas, blind and hollowed, are only touched at the apex) avoiding the presence of the slab.

Whoever has faced this situation will know how difficult it is to unite at a vertex two openings placed in different floors, and therefore separated by a slab, without showing the thickness of this structural element.

Plaza de la Garduña, inserted in the Raval neighborhood of Barcelona, is characterized by the uniqueness of the buildings that surround it and that give it life: the new Massana School, the Boquería market, the old hospital. Among them, the residential building at the north side of the square, responds to this uniqueness with a sober neutrality. The building builds the corner that connects the square with Dr. Fleming’s gardens. Of its two main facades, the southeast one faces Plaza de la Garduña while the southwest faces the gardens.

There is no easy project, but refurbishing a residential building of the size that we are dealing with and where, over the years, each occupant has modified the terrace at his wish, it is a challenge. Here the architects solve it with few interventions, but very well posed.

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 facade is organized from several overlapped grids. Pillars and slabs cladded in aluminum draw the main order: a grid of the scale of the structural system. Over this grid, some mullions define a second order of 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.