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Biophilic-Inspired Design Takes Center Stage: How Bricks Bring Nature In

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Largely driven by rural migration to cities and overall population growth, 68% of people worldwide will live in urban areas by 2050. By doing so, many will benefit from greater access to basic services, proximity to public transportation, and better education and employment opportunities. But the pursuit of living urbanized lives also leads to isolation from the outdoors –be it a forest, a meadow or the mountains– that can negatively impact our physical and mental health. Exposure to nature has long been proven to reduce stress levels, boost mood, foster productivity and, above all, enhance well-being. So, considering we typically spend around 93% of our time indoors (and that the pandemic has magnified that statistic), now more than ever we find ourselves seeking a connection with the outdoors and all its inherent benefits. Architects thus face the important challenge of bringing nature in, which is precisely where biophilic design comes into play.

Materials or Labor, What Should Cost More?

Architecture is often an ambitious profession, with many architects hoping to positively contribute to the social life of the communities, create emotional responses, and add moments of delight and solace to our daily experiences. However, market forces have a way of applying constant pressure on this field, often being the deciding factor in many design choices. Costs and economic value are generally a good indicator of how, when, and to what extent certain materials are being used: the standard rule is the cheaper, the better. But materials are only part of the equation. Site labor, management, and design costs are also considered, depicting a complex picture of the balance between the cost of materials and the cost of labor and its effect on the architectural product.

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16 Brick Cladding Constructive Details

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Traditionally, bricks have been used in architecture to fulfill a double function: structural and aesthetic. While they act as an effective and resistant modular solution in building structures, their faces can be exposed to constitute their architectural appearance, generating facades rich in texture and color, thanks to the iron present in the clay they are composed of.

At present, there are products that allow the attractive appearance of bricks to be merged with other structural systems, separating their functions and providing the necessary freedom of design so that the facades can adapt creatively in favor of the conditions of each project and the requirements of its users.

Quinta da Baroneza House / Memola Estúdio + Vitor Penha

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Bragança Paulista, Brazil

Bricktopia: contemporary crafts in EME3 Festival, Barcelona

"Bricktopia", by the architects of the international collective Map13, is the winning project in the "Build-it" Eme3 International Architecture Festival, held on June 27-30 in Barcelona. The pavilion can be visited throughout the summer at the square of the former spinning mill Fabra i Coats in the Sant Andreu district.

This intervention sets a new square which can house different activities, both under the pavilion and around it. Public spaces for bathrooms, sun, bar and stage for enjoying the summer 2013. It is a brick domed structure that employs the traditional construction system of a partitioned vault (or "Catalan vault") computed with new digital tools for the structural optimization of the geometry.

More information and images below.

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