Spanish architecture collective Map13 combined a traditional Spanish construction technique with digital design tools to create this vaulted brick pavilion in a Barcelona courtyard (+ slideshow).
Named Bricktopia, the structure was designed by Map13 using a Catalan vault - a method where plain bricks are laid lengthways across gently curved forms to create a series of smooth low arches.
"Unlike the construction that can be seen these days, this project aims to restore the expertise and imagination of the building hands," explained the architects.
The structure was conceived using three-dimensional modelling software program Rhino and a plugin called Rhinovault. This enabled the architects to test the geometries of the structure and adapt it so that only compression stresses act on the vault.
This approach is based on a prototype developed by researchers Philippe Block, Matthias Rippman and Lara Davis at the Technical University of Zurich.
"This research collects the material tradition and the constructive knowledge of tile vaulting and combines them with contemporary computational tools," said the designers.
The structure was built by architecture students and volunteers, who used criss-crossing metal rods and pieces of cardboard to outline the basic frame.
The completed structure comprised four vaulted spaces with curved openings that form doors and windows.
Bricktopia was constructed as part of the Eme3 International Festival of Architecture, which took place in June, and was used to host a programme of summer events including talks, activities and film projections.
Photography is by Manuel de Lózar and Paula López Barba, unless otherwise stated.
Here is some more information from the architects:
Bricktopia, Contemporary Crafts Festival EME3
Bricktopia, by the architects of the international collective Map13, is the winning project in the "Build-it" category at the International Festival of Architecture Eme3 held from the 27th to 30th of June in Barcelona. It can be visited during this summer at one of the courtyards of the former factory Fabra i Coats, in the district of Sant Andreu.
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 optimise 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.