An Architect’s Guide To: Stucco

Master the art of designing striking stucco finishes.

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One of the major attractions of stucco is its incredible versatility. As a material that can be finished in an endless array of colors, textures and shapes, many architects have leveraged these qualities to create unique and stunning buildings. However, as a finicky material that is mixed and installed on site, it also comes with it challenges.

Before specifying this versatile material for your next project, take a look through this guide. You will find everything from inspirational projects to inform your design to the nitty-gritty details of specifying a three-coat façade.

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How to Specify: Stucco

Stucco is a funny material. On one extreme, it’s the stuff of pure material abstraction. When finished at its smoothest and whitest, it’s the face of modernist simplicity. It’s barely there. On the other extreme, it’s intensely tactile. Rough and grainy, it calls to mind the windblasted deserts of the American Southwest. It’s physical; elemental, even. And it can be a lot of stuff in between.” Check out the full story here.

Left: EIFS façade at Knickerbocker Commons by Chris Benedict R.A.; image via EIMA; Right: TassiloHof by 03 Architekten GmbH; image via Haslreíter

How to Choose Between EIFS and Stucco

“While some of stucco’s most fervent advocates might disagree, it can be very difficult to distinguish between stucco and EIFS by simply observing them on the face of a building. In fact, they can look so similar that many manufacturers recommend pressing on the buildings rather than looking at them, in order to tell them apart. Their close running in the competitive building-product race is what makes this such an important comparison to make.” Check out the full story here.

Karuna House by Hammer & Hand is an award winning passive house that features a stucco and cedar-clad façade; via Thermocromex

How to Leverage Stucco to Create An Energy Efficient “Passive House”

“In this article, we investigate the opportunities that stucco can provide, specifically under passive house principles. Leveraging the brilliant products of manufacturers like Sto, is it possible to create a highly energy-efficient passive house that is enclosed in a stucco façade?” Check out the full story here.


Building Layers: 5 Homes Showcasing Stucco Masonry Construction

Overlooking stepped terraces of ancient hillside vineyards and the city below, Haus am Weinberg was conceptually designed around a single twist gesture. The central twist element supports the main staircase as it guides and organizes the main flows through the house, orienting to view, diagonal movements and program. Natural stone and oak combine with white clay stucco walls speckled with fragments of reflective stone.” Check out the full story here.

Chukum: 6 Projects Reviving an Ancient Stucco

Chukum, named after its main ingredient, was a limestone-based stucco mixed with resin from chukum trees, a species endemic to the Yucatan region of Mexico. The resin, extracted by twice boiling the tree’s bark, imparted the mixture with water-repelling qualities. It also gave the stucco a warm, pinkish color without the need for artificial dyes. Chukum was an affordable and environmentally-friendly material, that could significantly increase the lifespan of masonry construction. Sadly, this technique was lost with the extermination of Mayan culture.” Check out the full story here.

Case Studies

Casa Balint, Bétera, Spain

The Ultimate Anti-Material: Fran Silvestre on the Creation of Modern Stucco Masterpieces

Fran Silvestre, founder of Spanish firm Fran Silvestre Arquitectos, sees his practice as a constant work in progress. His firm, based in the eastern city of Valencia, is never finished when it comes to shaping a collective architectural ethos, always looking to refine and perfect its craft and deliver the goods for clients. Simultaneously, the practice is a workshop of innovation for a single, monochromatic material: each project can be viewed as an exemplar in how to specify and apply stucco to stuning, contemporary effect.” Check out the full story here.

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Having a nightmare specifying the ideal stucco for your latest project? Save time, money and your sanity by searching on Architizer’s new online marketplace for building-products. Click here for more information.

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