Living in the city

Couple pushing bicycles and woman jogging in a housing estate
Creating places made from clay to feel at home in an urban environment.

Facing urban challenges with ceramic building materials

The growth of our cities is inevitable. Viewed globally, more people already live in cities than in rural areas. According to the UN “World Urbanization Prospects” report, 66% of the world population will live in cities by 2050. Consequently, this intensifies the pressure on providing affordable quality housing and creating cities for people. Criteria such as sustainable growth, energy efficiency and climate factors, including decreasing the urban heat island effect, are key aspects. Besides that, urban design should not be neglected.
 
Our everyday life is to a considerable degree influenced by our architectural environment. Nowhere is this fact as relevant as in contemporary urban development, as it is in a state of constant change. Facing bricks, clay blocks and roof tiles enjoy universal acceptance because they have been familiar building materials for centuries and simultaneously play an important role in today’s architecture. Their appeal lies in their functionality, durability as well as their characteristic, aesthetic and varied appearance.

These essential aspects are reflected in many examples, such as the passive building in Brussels, which accommodates social housing and is part of a larger urban renewal plan. The building, which has been finished with a white brick façade, has an iconic character. In combination with the changing effects of sunlight, the facing bricks give the building’s surface a special texture, while simultaneously creating a maintenance-friendly façade.

Another extraordinary social housing project, containing 16 social apartments, a retail area on the ground floor and underground parking, is situated in Paris. The same ceramic roof tiles in two colours were used to cover both the roof and the façades, thus giving the building a monolithic and distinctive look. In addition, the glazed surface finish reduces deposits from air pollution and is designed to clean itself naturally.

Today’s sociodemographic changes cause a rethinking of new forms of living. Trends like the increasing number of single-person households, multigenerational living, flexible workspaces, changing mobility patterns need to be considered. Modern apartment buildings accommodate both private and shared rooms as well as other amenities to facilitate everyday life in the city, such as co-working spaces, car-sharing concepts and e-car charging station. Due to the manifold possibilities bricks, clay blocks, roof tiles and ceramic façade panels offer, they are perfectly suited for the implementation of such projects.

A perfect answer to allowing new types of living and providing affordable quality housing is the Cluster House in Zurich, Switzerland. The project offers so-called cluster apartments, which comprise five to seven mini-flats, a large shared kitchen and a living room. Furthermore, this sustainable low-tech project has been built using highly insulating clay blocks in monolithic construction without additional insulation.

The growth of our cities, entails new challenges as well as opportunities - not only for contemporary architecture, but also for building materials. Wienerberger is facing those challenges with high-quality products, sustainable concepts and inspiring design ideas: creating places made from clay to feel at home in an urban environment. 

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