The external cladding of this parking structure is made with Flexbrick ceramic textile. Improving the natural light and ventilation of the building, this ceramic fabric allows for an urban quality while bringing the building to a kinder scale.
The Flexbrick sheets are composed of a stainless steel mesh that fixes every piece of baked clay in its position, and at the same time holds them joined together. In this project, the sheets reach up to 21 lineal meters. Their installation was carried out in an industrial way - hanging them from the highest point of the building with cranes, thereby speeding up the construction process as opporsed to a piece-by-piece manual process. To improve the functionality, a metallic reinforcement was designed in order to absorb violent impacts wither from the inside or outside of the parking structure.
Flexbrick is an example of cooperation between business and research. The ceramic textile was conceived innitially by Vicente Sarrablo, PhD Architect and director of the Ceramics Professorship of Barcelona at the International University of Catalunya, and it’s been developed afterwards by two leader companies of the building industry in Spain: Piera Ecocerámica and Cerámica Malpesa.
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The new building in Saint Roch, designed by Barcelona based office Archikubik, gives a new meaning to what a parking construction is and creates a space that encourages interaction and social encounters among citizens. • The external cladding, made with Flexbrick ceramic textile, improves the natural lighting and ventilation of the building.
The innovation and building creativity of the office Archikubik and the company Flexbrick has arrived in Montpellier, in particular at the recently opened Saint Roch parking, an open air construction of ten storeys designed by the Barcelona based architect office and whose façade shows the potential of the ceramic textile. The main feature of the project is its integration in the urban life of the city. The construction is not just a parking lot anymore but also a “relational” place that provides an urban service and allows the development of the metropolitan life of the citizens of Montpellier. The building is an extension of the city not only because of the multi-functionality of its spaces (there are areas saved for retailing; there is a change and evolution potential in its design that allows the building to host other functions in the future; the ninth floor can be used as a public space for events…) but also because of the external aesthetic component achieved thanks to the ceramic textile façade.
The constructive system, based on the concept of flexible ceramic sheets, is the solution to visually integrate the building in the city by using a material as urban as the clay for conceiving its façade. The architect Miquel Lacasta, from Archikubik, explains that “the use of a perennial material, linked to a very innovative way of implementation, as it is the one of the ceramic textile, allows us to introduce an urban code of ‘sensitive integration’ in the city”. In addition, the capability to merge pieces of different colors (white, red and salmon) in the textile applied on the façade “leads the building to a more friendly urban scale, with the Montpellier colored roofs and the surrounding vineyards in the autumn”, he claims. 2 It’s important to remark that the building could host different functions than parking if needed. This flexibility is achieved thanks to the height of each floor (2,6 meters high) and to the possibilities that the Flexbrick façade has to offer, which can be modified in response to the needs of the building.
The Flexbrick sheets are composed of a stainless steel mesh that fixes every piece of baked clay in its position, and at the same time it holds them joined together. In this project, the sheets reach up to 21 lineal meters and its implementation is carried out in an industrial way, hanging them from the highest point of the building with cranes, which speeds up the construction process facing the piece-by-piece manual process. Only in a three months period, 614 sheets have been implemented in this project. The safety of this system is backed up by the French Construction Institute (CSTB), which has audited its implementation in this project. Additionally, Flexbrick has obtained the ATEX Safety Certificate, which has tested the system even subjecting its resistance to a wind tunnel, and has approved the façade making it fit the French regulations. On top of that, to prove its functionality, a metallic reinforcement has been designed in order to absorb violent impacts either from the inside or the outside of the parking
“The result of this ceramic curtain applied on the façade contributes, also, to the sustainability of the building”, remarks Lluís Pinardel, Flexbrick CEO, given that the building has obtained the HQE certification, which describes the parking as a “Building of Environmental High Quality”.
Thanks to the openwork composition of the Flexbrick patterns, the natural light is filtered inside the building and it also absorbs part of the solar heat, complementing the action of the vegetation that grows on the rooftop and on the north façade. Moreover, it allows the parking to be ventilated and free of smokes and smells generated by the cars.
As Pinardel says, “the execution of this project meant a challenge for Flexbrick due to its technical complexity and the safety demands, which have been the highest, and therefore, its successful implementation proves the multiple possibilities of the ceramic, a system that makes feasible a wide range of architectural finishings while accomplishing the more strict technical requirements”. Flexbrick, an example of cooperation between business and investigation The ceramic textile was concibed initially by Vicente Sarrablo, PhD. Architect and director of the Ceramics Professorship of Barcelona at the International University of Catalunya, and it’s been developed afterwards by two leader companies of the building industry in Spain: Piera Ecocerámica and Cerámica Malpesa. Flexbris is an example for the cooperation between business and University.
TECHNICAL SHEET OF THE HANGING CERAMIC FAÇADE Surface: 7.378,18 m2 Number of sheets: 614 Width of the sheets: 60/80/120 cm Size of the pieces: 20x10x3 cm Colors: white, red, salmon Production time: 3 months Installation time: 3 months
3 When the architect exposed the idea, almost six years ago, both companies realised that the product could be extremely atractive due to the revolutionary change in how we understand arquitecture and construction using ceramic materials nowadays. This new ceramic fabric is based on the concept of textile architecture, creating a flexible and adaptable material through the combination of two unalike components as steel and ceramics. This industrialized system speeds up the building process using a long-life material, which also can be personalized depending on the needs of each project.