BRICKTOPIA . Barcelona

MAP13 . photos: © Manuel de Lózar + Paula López Barba . + eme3

Bricktopia is the winner Project in eme3 “Build-it” category. It proposes the construction of a complex vaulted geometry using tile in the courtyard of the old thread factory Fabra i Coats (address: Carrer Sant Adrià 20, Barcelona).

This intervention configures a new square where different activities can be performed, both under the building and around it. It includes bathing public spaces and sundecks, a bar and a stage for enjoying the summer 2013.

It is a vaulted structure made of brick using a traditional construction technique called tile-vault (or "Catalan vault"). It has been designed with new digital tools to optimize the structure through geometry. The proposal is the result of the academic research currently carried out by Marta Domènech Rodríguez, David López López and Mariana Palumbo Fernández, co-founders of the group Map13, with the help of different Professors from different fields and various schools of architecture.
This construction takes as a reference the prototype built by Philippe Block, Matthias Rippman and Lara Davis at the Technical University of Zurich, with which they demonstrated the reliability of “RhinoVault”, a plug-in for Rhinoceros, used to design the pavilion.
As “Bricktopia” is a pilot project which makes this traditional technique work to its limits, its implementation has required the expansion of the team, which has been enlarged with Paula López Barba and Josep Brazo Ramírez. The construction has also required the effort of Eme3 festival that gives support to young talented people to carry out their projects, the sponsorship of the companies that contributed with workforce and materials and the help of volunteers and students of architecture.

This research collects the material tradition and the constructive knowledge of tile vaulting and combines them with contemporary computational tools. This project, developed in the enclosed area of a nineteenth-century factory made of brick, uses the same material raising a new topography in the old courtyard. However, it is opposed to the industrial construction offering a concave and protected space that links the origins of all cultures.
The vaulted pavilion sets out the contemporary validity of this traditional system, native of Catalonia and widely used in various parts of the world for centuries. It is economical, sustainable, with formal and functional versatility and nowadays it is also offering the possibility of being built in developing countries for roofs, stairs, drainage systems, etc. Unlike the construction that can be seen these days, this project aims to restore the expertise and imagination of the building hands. “Bricktopia” has been built by excellent builders who have made an unprecedented craftsmanship. The challenge that requires good layout in tile vault construction, specially with a complex shape like this one, suggests the work as an opposite to the mechanical work.

Project designed with rhinoVAULT a plug-IN from Rhinoceros emerged from the research of the Block Research Group at the ETH Zurich by Matthias Rippmann, Lorenz Lachauer and Prof. Dr. Philippe Block on structural form finding using the Thrust-Network-Approach to intuitively create and explore compression-only structures.

Authors of contest:
Marta Domènech, David López López and Mariana Palumbo

Responsible architects: Marta Domènech and David López López
Execution team: Marta Domènech, David López López, Mariana Palumbo, Paula López Barba and Josep Brazo Ramirez.

Construction collaborators:
Alejandro Caballero, Rafael Salas, Manuel de Lózar, Alfonso Godoy, Miguel Melas, Jaume Nadal, Igor Vuleta, Oriol Palou, Hugo José López López, Patricia Mancas, Irene Subils, Montse Pastor, Alba

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