Glass bricks are strong, energy efficient
The unique brick façade took about a year to build, and makes the apartments above appear to be floating over the ground floor retail space. The private residences still have a terra cotta brick façade, as required by city building codes, so the glass bricks from the retail space appear to meld into the building’s traditional brickwork.
The new façade mimics the original building design. It allowed the designers to add interior space and augment the vertical height of the building to meet existing building codes. Poesia, a glassmaker near Venice, casted the glass bricks that were used in the building remodel. The bricks are held in place with a special UV-activated transparent glue developed in Germany.
Despite appearances, the glass bricks are actually stronger than concrete, as proven by strength tests conducted by researchers at the Delft University of Technology. The doorway frame, known as an architrave, is strong enough to withstand the impact of two SUVs. In addition, the team created a replacement and repair plan for the bricks, in the event that one or more are damaged. According to the designer, individual bricks can be removed and replaced as needed.
The building’s façade wasn’t the only point of upgrade during the remodel. The building was outfitted with a ground-source heat pump to optimize the indoor climate year-round.
Many existing buildings have traded their original designs to accommodate modern the needs of modern retailing. The designers aimed to retain the original character of the building façade. The new glass front design mimics the style of the building’s original door and window frames, while at the same time, creating an attractive space for high-end retail activity. Other tenants on the once residential street include Dior, Prada and Rolex.
Because the façade is made entirely of glass, it is completely recyclable. That is in keeping with the design firm’s commitment to incorporating environmentalism into its work. The firm says that during the building process, several imperfect bricks were melted down and reformed, conserving both energy and material. It also pointed out that the entire façade could be melted down and reformed in the future, if it becomes necessary.
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Photo Credit: jpmm, via FreeImages.com