Weingut Gantenbein - Bearth & Deplazes

Brick is mostly considered to be a traditional building material. Granted, the material's been around for ages, and in certain cases it certainly plays on a nostalgic feeling of recognition, but there are other ways of dealing with this material. As the Swiss architects Bearth & Deplazes have shown in their Weingut (winery) Gantenbein.

For an expansion of the existing winery near the village of Fläsch, they chose to go for a concrete skeleton with a brick infill pretty early on in the design process. But instead of limiting themselves to the traditional brick-laying methods, they decided to opt for something rather more contemporary. They really treated the brickwork as a skin of the building, and decided to have it "tattooed" by an image made out of bricks, by using patterns of bricks and seams.

And traditional methods didn't suffice. Laying bricks by hand wouldn't be precise enough, let alone massively expensive. So they teamed up with the people from the chair for Digital Fabrication from the ETH Zürich, who were already working on a bricklaying robot. In the end it all worked out rather splendidly: a robot was created, which was programmed to position every single brick in exactly a certain position - in order to create a really sexy, modern skin out of a classic material.

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