We mixed wine, water and milk to get the colour we wanted

A short time ago, a new museum building project was completed, which will undoubtedly attract huge numbers of visitors – not least for its architecture – when cultural institutions all over the world once again open their doors.

The new building in Hasselt, Belgium, is an expansion to Z33 House for Contemporary Art, Design & Architecture, designed by the Italian architect Francesca Torzo.

Z33 derives its name from the address Zuivelmarkt 33 in the centre of Hasselt, which housed a Beguine community in the 18th century. It later became a gin distillery, and has been an exhibition space since 1958. Like the other buildings in the complex, the Z33 expansion is built in brick and follows the same general principle as the Beguine originals: shut off from the street by a closed, 60-metre-long and 12-metre-high wall and opening on to a garden.

It was crucial for Torzo that the new walls were clearly solid and of high quality. The façades are clad with a special brick developed by Torzo in close collaboration with Petersen Tegl.

The architect conducted multiple studies to find a colour that would harmonise with the rest of the buildings on the site:“I opted for a purplish terracotta hue, although it’s almost impossible to describe, and then visited Petersen Tegl, who were immediately up for the challenge. We mixed wine, water and milk to create an example of the colour we wanted. We then experimented until we found the right clay mixture and firing temperature to ensure that the finished hand-moulded, rhombus-shaped, hard-fired bricks were exactly what the client and I wanted.

The result, the finished façade, looks both antique and abstract, which fits the time and place. It folds out towards the street, and the rhombus-shaped  bricks make it look like of a piece of cloth draped over the wall. Everything is slightly irregular, but the effect is deeply harmonious.”

Photographer: Gion Von Albertini, Francesca Torzo, Piero Codato, Martin Schubert