Appealing and eco-friendly
Shinberg Levinas Architects
Inaugurated in November 2013, the Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School consists of a grey three-floor volume interrupted by horizontal glazed partitions and a transparent central atrium. Winner of the institutional category in the Tile Competition held at Coverings 2015, the building hosts a resource centre, offices, English language and computing classrooms, four culinary workshops complete with kitchens and a large cafeteria. It was built to host several different institutions: the Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School, the campus of the Ana G. Mendez University System and the headquarters of the Community Capital Corporation.
The need to satisfy different clients and the decision to adapt to the irregular shape of the lot made for an unusual spatial layout that dialogues visually with the neighbourhood through large transparent surfaces. The high energy-efficiency windows not only provide plenty of natural light but also create a sense of physical and emotional well-being. The bright open spaces of the common areas were designed in keeping with the programme of the Carlos Rosario International PCS, a non-profit organisation whose mission is to interact with the community through charity events and mentoring. Both the atrium and the cafeteria host events that allow real contact with the city.
The material bulk of the exterior facades, consisting of an external insulation system and a porcelain panel base, appears to emerge directly from the tarmac, blending in with the colours of the city. The search for visual continuity is also evident in the interiors, where the same porcelain tile is used on the floors in all the common areas. The 1,200 square metres of large-format ceramic tiles (3×1 metres) supplied by the Italian company Lea Ceramiche were one of the key elements of the project, not just in terms of aesthetics but also because of their characteristics of sustainability, hygiene, ease of maintenance, cost reduction and energy saving. There are many other reasons why this specific product was chosen. First, practicality. Given their low thickness (3 mm) and weight (a panel weighs just 7 kg), these products are easy to cut, shape, drill and install. Moreover, the existing floor covering does not need to be removed and disposed of, allowing for savings in labour and costs. Secondly precision: the low thickness allows the floor surface to be installed seamlessly with narrow joints to reduce problems of maintenance and hygiene. Thirdly eco-sustainability: produced from almost 50% recycled materials, these panels were key components of a building with its sights on LEED Gold Certification, awarded in the summer of 2015. Produced without using moulds and sintered at 1200°C in a process that reduces CO2 emissions and the dispersion of fine particles, the panels also contribute to energy saving thanks to their properties of thermal conductivity, which make them ideal for underfloor heating systems and exterior cladding.
Lea Ceramiche, Basaltina Slimtech Stone Project
honed, natural, sandblasted
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): ≤ 0,1%
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): ULA UHA
Resistance to deep abrasion (ISO 10545-6): compliant
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): compliant
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): compliant
Modulus of rupture and breaking strength (ISO 10545-4): ≥ 55/N mm2
Slip resistance (DIN 51130): R9
Thermal shock resistance (ISO 10545-9): compliant