Like all border towns, Chiasso in Switzerland’s Ticino canton represents a meeting point between countries, a centre of traffic, logistics and transit. A residential and office building located in the nearby Morbio Inferiore neighbourhood stands out for its severe, diagrammatic livery that filters the formal rigour of its architectural language with an attentive study of the colour of its facade, highlighting the aesthetic and technical characteristics of the porcelain façade panels.
Designed by architect Fabio Crivelli from the Mendrisio-based architecture and design practice Carlo e Fabio Crivelli, the building consists of three above-ground storeys and is composed of a central block with facades broken up by protruding volumes. The elegant anthracite grey used for its external ceramic covering is interrupted by windows and large glazed areas shielded with dark grey metal sunshades, while the protruding sections and recessed areas are highlighted by white masonry to accentuate the dynamic perception of the whole.
The project has adopted structural and technological solutions guided by criteria of sustainability and occupant comfort. The design of the envelope in particular not only determines the architecture of the building but also makes a crucial technical contribution based on the use of a curtain wall.
Constructed using Materia Project porcelain panels by Casamood, in the exclusive Crusted finish, inspired by weathered plaster walls, the facade covers approximately 350 m2.
The 30×180 cm porcelain panels are secured to the metal frame using enamelled fasteners of the same colour, as required by Swiss regulations, in a pattern determined by the grid of windows.
This dry mounting solution, which uses neither adhesives nor mortar, combined with the ventilation of the cavity it encloses, increases the breathability of the masonry, thereby improving the salubriousness of the building as a whole. The curtain wall also enables the building to maintain an ideal internal temperature for maximum occupant comfort.
Furthermore, the main structural elements of the building are kept dry and protected, avoiding deterioration and reducing maintenance costs. The colour durability, low water absorption and ease of cleaning of the porcelain panels ensure that the aesthetic and technical characteristics of the envelope remain unchanged over time.
This way of mounting the external façade has enormous benefits for both renovated and new buildings. It guarantees good insulation in the winter, while reducing the thermal load on walls exposed to sunshine during the summer, bringing energy savings and lower air conditioning costs. Moreover, the porcelain panels, the ventilation gap and the insulating layer improve the building’s soundproofing by creating a barrier that prevents noise from propagating inside the building.