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Facade detail: Dundee House, Scotland by Reiach and Hall

[Working Detail 21.07.11] Brick facade for Dundee House

For the west facade of Dundee House, we chose brick for its ability to render the ordinary extraordinary. Materiality was a key consideration and drove us to source a handmade brick by the Danish company Petersen.

By British standards it is an unusual size, at 228 x 108 x 54mm, and lends an elegant and refined appearance to the building. Flush pointed white mortar on 13mm bed joints and 12mm perpends produces a monolithic effect that feels somehow appropriate to the building’s civic nature.

The contrast of the bricks and their varying physical tolerances and non-uniformity works well against the rigorously composed ordering system. This was born of the need for deep reveals in order to provide shade, as well as a one-metre set-back from the boundary to meet fire engineering.

Structural precast concrete columns are wrapped in brick. White acid etched architectural precast sills span the columns to provide additional shade and to inform the simple trabeated language.

Crucially, these sills are held back from the main facade to allow light to pass behind, enriching visual appreciation of the facade. On a practical level, this permits the curtain walling to pass uninterrupted, greatly simplifying detailing and ease of construction. The set-back on the sixth floor provides space for a balcony and the opportunity for a spectacular civic address.

Nick O’Neill, associate architect atReiach and Hall Architects

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