Comfort, Sustainability and Local Materials for Mediterranean Living
Nestling in the interior of Majorca, midway between the bays of Palma and Pollença on opposite sides of this Mediterranean island, the town of Inca retains traces of Arab colonization, including systems to extract underground water, wineries and restaurants that are an ideal way to learn about local flavors, and a weekly market filled with a riot of colors. The body that manages public housing in the Balearic Islands, Ibavi (Instituto Balear de la Vivienda), commissioned the Joan Fortuny and Alventosa Morell Arquitectes practices to design a residential complex with 54 apartments characterized by very low energy use, optimization of consumption and thermal insulation. The brief required not only user comfort, sustainability and regional materials, but also nZEB (Nearly Zero Energy Building) certification, which was one of the reasons that Diasen, with its high-porosity Mediterranean thermal mortar, was brought into the project.
The building is characterized by soft tones and built with thermal blocks and a concrete structure, using Diathonite Thermactive.037 eco-friendly plaster with an average thickness of 4 cm for the entire vertical exterior of the envelope and for the balcony ceilings. Made predominantly with cork, lime, diatomaceous earth and pumice, it provides year-round thermal protection, particularly during the hot Spanish summers. Such is the low diffusivity and thermal conductivity of the material, it can be called a “comfort plaster”.
This has evident positive benefits for the interior, especially as the dehumidifying capacity and breathability of Diathonite Thermactive.037 improve air quality by helping to balance humidity levels. Such breathability is one of the great strengths of this material, leaving the walls free to breathe, and the high permeability, which is the key to balancing room humidity, prevents the formation of mold and the build-up of condensation.
Last but not least, this product offers fire protection, preventing smoke generation, and it is classified in class A1 according to UNI EN ISO 13501-1.
The residential complex in Inca is a concrete example of how the “Mediterranean building” philosophy of sustainable comfort and regional materials can truly take shape in architecture at the service of the community and the environment.