Creating Space with Prefab

Japanese Architectural firm Toyo Ito & Associates designed Museo Internacional del Barroco (MIB), on the edge of a park near the city of Puebla, Mexico, which is one of the country's most important cultural centers. The museum features 702 curved white concrete pieces between 18 and 25 meters high, comprised of 18,150 square meters divided into two levels. The prefabricated pieces enabled the curved form of each wall, while maintaining the highest quality finish. This technique helped to reduce the original execution time by 48%, eliminated use of on-site frame cramps, and lowered the consumption of white concrete by 40%—since the walls only required white concrete for exterior layers. The gap between the two layers of white concrete was filled by using self compacting Grey concrete.

Rafael Barona, Architect, DANSTEK

The Museum hosts examples of Baroque art ranging from painting, sculpture and fashion to architecture, music, theatre, literature and food. Fluted slabs white concrete with a bush-hammered finish forms the walls, while a crescent-shaped pond wraps the building, intended to create a visual connection with the park. To frame the main facade of the museum, a large square has been designed for visitors. This facade also receives night time projections of images related to current exhibitions, which also illuminate the museum.

Toyo Ito original renderingToyo Ito original Rendering 2013

Fact File
Building Name: Museo Internacional del Barroco
Location: Puebla, México
Year: 2015
Architect: Toyo Ito
Local Architect: Federico Bautista
Photos Patrick: Lopez
Structural Concept: ARQme Rafael Barona
Construction Engineering: ARQme
General Contractor: Hermes Infraestructura Prefabrication erection and structure work contractor: Danstek
Walls: Fapresa
Slabs: Bubbledeck México

Toyo ARqme

Site Plan

The building of 25 meters maximum height, is elevated 2m² from ground, and is easily recognizable from the two main roads, acting as a beacon. The MIB has two levels above ground. The total floor area is approximately 18,149 m2, of which 9,855 m² correspond to the lower floor (ground floor), 7,316 m² to the upper floor and 978 m2 to the mezzanine level. The structure consists of concrete walls and slabs that have been developed in collaboration with the Mexican company DANSTEK which specializes in developing construction process for state of the art buildings. The compose walls are made of a sandwich prefab panel with two layers of white concrete and cast in situ the interior of the panel. The precast part, consisting of two panels of 65 mm white concrete joined as a sandwich panel, also acts as a formwork whilst simultaneously controlling the final finish. The inside, cast onsite with grey concrete, merges the pieces together with the reinforcement, producing a monolithic wall.

ARQme 3d Print StructureARQme 3d Print of the structural solution 2014

Structure Description & Challenges

Prefabrication has been part of traditional construction for more than a century. Today, there is a big difference between building using prefab as a construction process than creating spaces out of prefab.

The strategy used to build the Baroque museum in the city of Puebla, posed a big challenge in producing a 36 cm (14") thick wall distributing the load from the slab that spans 25 x 25 meters (82´ x 82´) and certain extra requirements, besides security against earthquakes, acoustics and no of vibrations.

ARQme Toyo Designing slabARQme-Toyo ito 3d Structural Collaboration Designing the slab

The entire building has more than 15,600 sqm (167,917sq.f) of white structural concrete walls. Twenty Exhibition Halls in a sequence, surrounded by walls and no single column, provides flexibility to the exhibition space. Each white concrete wall never touches another wall at the corners, that means where the typical strength of the structure takes place in this project that's exactly where light penetrates the building. By the refraction of sunlight, the natural ambient of the interior is enhanced, and without compromising the art.

ARQme drawings molding processARQme drawings plywood ribs for molding process

There are no corners in the project, which means that the wall never creates a corner condition, and the there is no strength for lateral forces that a normal corner condition can do; instead we have a diaphragm made by the slab that transfers the loads from one wall to the other in order to achieve resistance. What gives stiffness to the structure is the curved endings of the walls; Curves are made out of cones, a primary figure that is easy to control over space and time, and without the need for special calculation or sophisticated analysis.

ARQme 3D rebar design

The solution was to use a Sandwich Wall

A hybrid solution was proposed for the project, using prefab elements to make the structure and the geometry gestures possible for both vertical and horizontal elements. But, also filling a voided wall in situ with structural concrete in order to create a monolithic wall, and pouring concrete on to the Bubble Deck Slab to create a rigid diaphragm.
  • structural white concrete wall
  • non-traditional forms limits
  • continuous wall from ground to the top
  • less joints on the surface
  • no contraction cracks
  • quality control in all the elements during the process
  • Time reduction
  • recovery time in case of a failure
  • geometry control over the entire process
Danstek Courtesy

The 68 cm (26.7") thick slab compose by bubble Deck prefabricated panels connects to the wall by using standard rebar. The entire solution has no welded or bolted connections, and no use of grout. At the end we wanted to create just a simple monolithic concrete structure.

Danstek Courtesy Museum

Construction Process

By using the prefab as a main source of geometry and form system, a 27-week timeframe was enough to build a 18,500m2 (193,750 sq.f) by using up to 22 simultaneous hydraulic cranes and also pouring concrete on slabs before walls where there. This allows the prefab manufacturer to extend the delivery time to the jobsite while they were producing more than 702 different walls. The panels include all mechanical and electrical-embedded accessories on the walls.

NBM&CW February 2019

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