The ventilated fa�ade: freedom of design and energy conservation
The outer wrapper is one of the most expressive aspects of architecture; today’s response is the porcelain stoneware ventilated façade.

Quality of life must take into account energy savings obtained through insulation. In architecture there are historical precedents for achieving this aim, mostly related to the type of building material and the thicknesses used for the outer walls, but now technology offers a new construction technique: the ventilated façade.

This increasingly popular method is based on use of the stack effect, that is, the principle that hot air rises, naturally helping to maintain a constant temperature in the building. The interesting thing about this type of construction is that it embraces the building even while letting it breathe, forming a gap which saves energy while giving the architects perfect freedom to design buildings the way they want to. The resulting effect, thanks to free circulation of air, is constant heating in winter and cooling in summer, all while saving on energy consumption.

It looks easy, though based on the physical principles resulting from traditional building practices; a ventilated façade is composed, in order from the outside towards the inside, of a wrapper anchored to the building by a special anchorage structure, normally made of aluminium, and an insulating layer connected to the mesh supporting the cladding. The gap measuring 3-5 centimetres created between the structure and the building becomes a space in which the circulation of air attenuates temperature excursions.

What is particularly interesting about this system for architects is that it allows them complete freedom of expression in the building’s wrapper; the principle on which the ventilated façade is based is static autonomy of each individual covering panel eliminating the need for mortar. This type of construction leaves the architect perfectly free to use ceramic coverings as if they were pixels, creating compositions that may vary from monochrome to polychrome and graphic, from coplanar to offset. And while the structure is permanent, the wrapper may be replaced, one piece at a time if desired, saving more money, wasting less material and cutting the amount of scrap produced on the building site.

In recent years a number of buildings have made this freedom their strong point, combining creative design with living comfort. Porcelain stoneware is very useful to them in expressing their creativity in their designs, with its uniquely vast range of different hues and its high quality and technical strength. Ceramic tiles can also be made in different sizes, adding even more character to the façade.

A useful partner for overcoming the technical complexity associated with this type of construction is Granitech, a company specialising in architectural projects for ventilated façades on both new and renovated buildings, solving the technical issues associated with any design project: a very useful aid for architects, who are now free to express all their ideas about the relationship between the building’s interior and exterior on the façade, while at the same time optimising energy savings.

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