Designed for the Boral Brick Awards 2011-2012, ‘The Urban Cloak’ proposal by Jonathan Gibb is an addition to an existing inner city 2 storey brick building, to adapt and add a multi-levelled apartment building. A cloaked figure; standing amongst the debris of style, industry and waste: veiled by a multiplicity of individual bricks, reading as one. At once a sun and rain screen, and veiling against on-lookers sight. The existing building is left, but affected by the new. Its old roof is discarded and the paint of the facade shed, revealing the identity of the brick. More images and architects’ description after the break.
The material utilization and method of construction is used to provoke a psychological effect such that mental processes are provoked. Into this building a new urban Bar – The Merchant, a restaurant – The Lantern Bistro and 7 floors of apartments with roof deck and communal garden powered by photo-voltaic arrays. This is not another apartment building or gloried latest style. This is the glorification of material and ability of construction and craft; of the individual to the city – This is the Urban Cloak.
Over this in ‘Dazzle camouflage of WW1’ technique strips of plaster enliven the facade whilst respecting the old material and proportion of the building. The insertion of a new structural timber skeleton of post tensioned columns and beams support pre-cast and cast in-situ concrete floor slabs with ribbed concrete shear wall and lift core support the new building, holding the new brick facade out as arms offering a gift to the city.
The design concentrates on three fields of spatial relation: fore-ground, middle-ground and distant view. The outer facade as viewed from outside (foreground) is wrapped in a veil of vertically suspended brick, undulating and cascading down the building resulting as a over-hang at street level. To ground level, the facade of the old building exists as foreground, while the interior spaces act as both middle and distant. Behind the new brick facade the intermediacy of decks acts to mediate between what is the public realm of urbanity and the private realm of the apartment.
The elegance and simplicity of the brick module is respected but treated anew using a system of structural hanging and draping. A material once brittle is now that and soft. Undulating like a silken scarf, enclosing the body of the building. Materials used to create the building have been chosen for their lasting durability and integrity – this is a building thoughtfully designed with appointment of quality materials able to withstand the sands of time.
The suspension of the brick facade as a seemingly floating cloak is via a system utilizing known methods in an unconventional manner. Stainless steel high-tensile cables form a network or mesh that allows the attachment of segmented brick tie courses made of specially shaped stainless steel grade 316 links, locked in place along the vertical length of the cables. Each pivots to its own ends, allowing for the cabling to move vertically and horizontally to create a truly 3D form. The cabling is held at each floor to distribute live and dead loads back to the main structure of skeletal timber frame and transmit thru the concrete shear wall and lift core. Conventional grouting is carried out with each 6th course used as a movement joint with stabilized silicone sealant.
Structurally, the use of timber is as old as the ages, except when used for building reaching over 6 stories. Here the modern principle of post-tensioned timber frame construction enables the structure to be rigid but have in-built ductility and material memory of form. Concrete slabs use the AAC lightweight concrete to alleviate the building from unnecessary dead weight, with interior timber framing supporting well known plaster board linings. Either innovative or known for lasting quality, the materials that combine to create this building will last generations.
A Cloak by name and by protection afforded. A single entity standing within the city, made of many. This is The Urban Cloak.