Main image: Damero building in Argentina, Photo credit: Francisco Cadau Oficina de Arquitectura / Gustavo Sosa Pinilla

A diverse medley of brick assemblies defines the Damero building in Argentina, which was completed in 2021. Designed by Francisco Cadau Oficina de Arquitectura, this housing complex in Campana near Buenos Aires has a stereotomic facade with alternating apartments and terraced patios.

Exposed brick having a revival

Angled brick protrusions and latticed screens are a testament to the architect’s innovation in the use of brick throughout the design – Photo credit: Francisco Cadau Oficina de Arquitectura / Gustavo Sosa Pinilla

With widespread connotations of its sustainability, low carbon footprint, proclivity towards passive design applications and links to vernacular architectural practices, exposed brick is undergoing a resurgence in the sphere of contemporary architecture. Innovations and reinterpretations of its use in construction have yielded a host of exceptional new projects, which have elevated the purpose of this ubiquitous material to a degree that could not have been imagined earlier.

The duality of finishes

The Damero project is a 20-unit multifamily housing building, located in Campana, Buenos Aires. The building is organised in a base extending across the plot and a main volume with five levels, concentrated towards the front.

The building is defined by two main components – the loadbearing structure in reinforced concrete, of columns and lightened beamless slabs that hold the service connections and resolve the ceilings; and the outer brick skin, textured and variable in its permeability. The interior white plaster masonry, the aluminium frames and the glass windows complement the perimetral enclosure of the units.

In the interior of the apartments, the coating, furniture, mobile panels (of white textured melanin) and the flooring, a beige granite mosaic, complete a material palette that creates a bright and subtly warm atmosphere.

Using bricks as a designing technique

The project studies brick technology as a designing technique. The rigging is abstracted as a system of relationships with transitions and passageways, establishing processes of continuous variation. The masonry used is a solid brick with a regular geometry and a reddish orange colour, with mica particles that give it a subtle brightness on its surface.

The checkerboard pattern of the building’s outer skin – Photo credit: Francisco Cadau Oficina de Arquitectura / Gustavo Sosa Pinilla

The working of the brick aims to develop a ductile envelope, moving past generic and undifferentiated enclosures, by deploying a wide range of performances that include the selective permeability of air, light, sunlight and visuals, the self-shading of the exterior surface and the dissipation of thermal energy absorbed by the envelope.

The exposed brick is organised by variations of the traditional stretcher bond, transitioning between rows of stretcher course and header course, as well as the whole range of intermediate organisations between them – configuring a continuous textured skin with variable permeability that systematises and integrates solid walls and perforated brick screens within a complex pattern.

Variations, texture, alignment of bricks

The variations of texture and permeability also play with see-through spots, lights and shadows that nuance the brick surfaces, virtually defining figures that complement the hollowness of the terrace-patios, enriching the checkerboard pattern of the building’s outer skin. A series of local operations facet the volume, initially prismatic, constituting the massive and carved character that identifies the building.

A network of public spaces, ramps, halls, and thresholds serve to transition from public to private space on moving from the street to the building’s interior – Photo credit: Francisco Cadau Oficina de Arquitectura / Gustavo Sosa Pinilla

The facets index programmatic and contextual differences on the faces of the prism: On the front and back faces, diagonally opposed slightly chamfered corners make room for the existing trees, softening the right angles of the volume. On the north facade, the front half of the plane is oriented slightly towards the east, verticalizing the proportion of this face of the building.

Finally, in the upper part of the volume, the chamfered perimeter walls form a kind of mansard that resolves the roof railing, crowning the building against the sky.

Full acknowledgement and thanks go to,,https://arquitecturaviva.comand www.mchap.cofor the information in this editorial.

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