Art and sustainable architecture: the “Wedding Cake” building by Joana de Vasconcelos fsantin August 17, 2023

Art and sustainable architecture: the “Wedding Cake” building by Joana de Vasconcelos

Construction and architecture are becoming increasingly aware of the impact that their works and designs will have on the environment. New examples of buildings that seek to reduce their ecological footprint are constantly being unveiled.

New examples of buildings that seek to reduce their ecological footprint are constantly being unveiled. A great example of sustainable construction, by its respect for traditional materials and its modernity, by the use of elements that reduce any impact on the environment associated with its enjoyment.

The sweetest work: the “Wedding Cake”.

It took almost five years to build the “Wedding Cake” building, a wedding venue commissioned by the Rothschild Foundation from Portuguese artist Joana de Vasconcelos, which now graces the Victorian estate of Waddesdon Manor, some 80 kilometres northwest of London.

“This is a building, but it is a sculpture, a temple, a wedding cake. It’s all ceramic, it’s four stories high and in a way it’s a piece that has a constructive side, an architectural side and an engineering side” details visual artist Joana Vasconcelos in a interview for the Portuguese daily Expresso50, about its innovative construction.

This work is a building in the shape of a wedding cake, weighing some 52 tons and 12 metres high, completely covered with Portuguese ceramic tiles from the Viúva Lamego factory, and full of dreamlike figures, which aims to be a dreamlike place to say “I do”.

Each floor has a different colour: the first floor is green, the first floor is blue, the third floor is pink and the top floor is yellow. And the interior is decorated with statues of St Anthony, a reference to the weddings that are expected to take place in the space. On the top floor, two parallel staircases allow the bride and groom to reach the top at the same time, simulating the traditional ceramic decoration of wedding cakes.

An awareness and recovery project

The sustainable commitment of this project starts from the very beginning. One of its aims was the recovery of moulds and the reproduction of decorative pieces for buildings and façades of ordinary buildings in Lisbon at the beginning of the 20th century. To this end, the artist delved into the history of the Portuguese ceramics company founded in 1849, to restore pieces that, according to the author, “form, in some way, part of the collective imagination and of history and tradition”, including mermaids, dolphins, candles, fountains and cherubs.

The large number of materials used in the work highlight its importance and architectural value: 3,500 pieces of wrought iron, 21,815 kg of sheet iron, 25,150 ceramic tiles (of 99 different types) and 1,238 ceramic pieces (of 52 different types), all of which were produced in Portugal and dismantled for transport to England.

This work of restoring materials is of great value when we talk about the circular economy, since, to a large extent, in addition to having been recycled and reused, this new use contributes to gaining in efficiency and sustainability.

In addition, environmentally friendly materials such as polypropylene pipes have been used for the water drainage network, which have outstanding properties:

      • Energy efficiency in their manufacture: they require less energy compared to their substitutes.

      • Lower CO2 emissions during transport: it is a lightweight material, which minimises the energy required for transport.

      • A long service life: they are known for their durability and corrosion resistance.

      • Easy recycling: it can be used to produce new products.

    The importance of soundproof piping in public design works

    For this type of construction, it should be considered that the exhaust pipe system is perfectly soundproofed to avoid unpleasant noises affecting the normal course of activity.

    To this end, polypropylene pipes achieve greater noise reduction in thinner wall thicknesses. In addition, they also have features that make them the best choice for design architecture:

        • They reduce the noise emitted by the structural elements of the building.

        • They have great versatility thanks to the fact that it is a resistant, flexible and waterproof material.

        • They have very low smoke emission and are non-toxic.

        • They are resistant to high and low temperatures (from -20º to 95º).

        • They prevent fouling and guarantee a constant flow rate thanks to their extremely smooth inner layer.

        • They are eco-friendly and recyclable.