2022 Mies van der Rohe Prize finalist showcases custom Petersen bricks


The Z33 House for Contemporary Art, Design and Architecture, one of seven finalists selected for the 2022 Mies van der Rohe Prize, features custom Petersen bricks developed in collaboration with architect Francesca Torzo.

The European Commission and the Mies van der Rohe Foundation recently announced the finalists for the coveted 2022 Mies van der Rohe Prize. The seven finalists include five projects in the Architecture category and two in the Emerging Architecture category.

Designed by Torzo, the Z33 house for contemporary art, design and architecture is built next to Vleugel ’58, the existing exhibition building at Zuivelmarkt 33 and the address from which the new gallery derives its name. Like all the beguine buildings of the triangular site on which the art gallery is located, the Z33 is closed towards the street and open towards the interior garden.

With brick being crucial to the overall decor vernacular, Torzo spent considerable time researching the right brick, working closely with the team at Petersen Tegl to develop a custom solution.

“The brick was the starting point for the new extension. He determined the size of the facades and the dimensions of all the windows and doors, as well as the door thresholds in the interior space,” explained Torzo.

The resulting handmade and custom diamond-shaped brick with a red-purple tint (involving 68 brick color tests) is used on the building facade facing the street and on the interior walls facing the garden and the court. It matches the brick architecture of the existing Vleugel ’58 Art Museum and the historic buildings around it. The buildings are different, but complementary, forming a whole.

Custom Petersen bricks are set with colored mortar to create a cohesive look. It’s almost monochromatic, but with a hint of a zigzag pattern generated by the diamond-shaped bricks, much like a piece of woven fabric. While the exterior walls are solid, those within are punctuated by deep faceted windows of various sizes overlooking the garden, each surrounded by bespoke brickwork forming ornamental jagged frames.

Custom bricks

Small variations in the bricks produce a shimmering effect on the facade in a beautiful play of shadow and light. In addition, the masons decided by eye on the exact position of each brick without using strings, thus creating a precise living appearance and giving the walls an even more spectacular life.

Z33’s artistic director, Adinda Van Geystelen, said: “The new exhibition wing leaves no one indifferent. Torzo has built a house that meets the needs and DNA of Z33. Far from the classic artistic institution of the white cube, she has created a place where things can happen, where people feel at home. Rare are the buildings that play with all the tools at your disposal as an architect: the play of light, the alternation of large and small spaces, materials such as brick and concrete, patios with greenery, the different views and perspectives… is the power of this exhibition wing. Francesca Torzo masterfully plays on all the senses, down to the smallest detail with great skill.

Photographer: Gion von Albertini

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