Rome’s Dives in Misericordia Complex by Richard Meier comprises the Church, three stand-alone sails in white concrete, the parish buildings and belfry. Frame profiles are produced by Schüco,while the special, completely transparent insulating glass is by Pilkington; Italcementi supplied the white cement and Mapei products were used in a number of different building applications.
Schüco produced the profiles for the vertical glazed surfaces, the large skylight, the glazed facades of the sails as well as the frames for the doors, windows and walls of the parish building. The extremely lightweight yet resistant support structures were especially designed to absorb sail movement due to wind stress and thermal dilation without transmitting these stresses to the glazing. Special telescopic aluminium profiles calendered to conform with the intersections of the sails compensate for the structure’s movements.
The church’s extensive curtain wall is borne by a structural lattice of steel flats covered by specially extruded aluminium sections, giving the impression of large expanses of glazed surface with no visible support structure. The skylight in the central nave - 36 m long with a free surface area of more than 13 m - is secured to an external steel tube grid. The project was developed together with New York practice, RM.
Frame specialists Frener&Reifer were entrusted with the executive project and installation.
Pilkington supplied a series of products especially designed for the project. The insulating glass for the skylight comprises a 10 mm external layer of toughened Optiwhite glass, a 15 mm air gap filled with argon gas, followed by a 12.8 mm inner layer of stratified Optilam Therm N. The curtain walls and other glazed surfaces comprise several types of insulating glass: external layer of toughened Optiwhite, argon gas air gap, inner layer of Optilam Therm N; joints are in 8.8 mm stratified Optilam N. All glazed surfaces guarantee extremely low heat transmittance (1.1 W/0K m2) but very high light transmission (from 78 – 81% depending on the glazing product). Important to the project was the extra-clear neutral colour glass provided by Pilkington to match the white sails.
Italcementi developed a titanium bioxide cement, called Bianco TX Millennium. This new patented formulation assures pure white coloured concrete that will keep its colour over time. Photocatalytic particles in the cement oxidize the pollutants coming into contact with the hardened concrete surface, there by maintaining the original surface appearance.
Mapei admixtures were used for the concrete to anchor of the post-compression sheaths, mount and seal the ashlar blocks, finish the external surfaces of the parish buildings, create the bedding course and lay the flooring. Mapefluid X404, a new generation acrylic hyperplasticiser, was admixed to the cement giving a fluid, air-bubble free, homogeneous concrete mix with excellent mechanical strength and low shrinkage. The 256 precast blocks making up the sails were lifted into place using a special machine anchored to the foundations by steel bars secured with the injection of Epojet, a two-component fluid epoxy resin with no shrinkage.
The travertine heated flooring of the church was laid using Granirapid, a two-component rapid setting and hydratation adhesive. The grey concrete and small cement blocks forming the external walls of the parish building were hand plastered with White Intonaco C 2000 to match the finish on the sails. For better protection against the elements, these surfaces received a finishing layer of Elastocolor, an elastic acrylic paint that covers any eventual cracks.
To obtain quick-drying, immediately stable, crack-free bedding courses, Topcem, a rapid-drying, non-shrink hydraulic binder was applied before laying the slabs of travertine.