Ceramics are hard and brittle materials that are generally used to create pottery and tiles. Ceramics in architecture have been in use across various eras from the colourful Art Nouveau to the eclectic Art Deco. Ceramics have had an impact on architecture across the world, with each region adding its indigenous quirks to it.
Ceramic tiles are made of sand, water and clay. But depending on the finishing and polishing, they are of many types, for example: glazed and unglazed tiles. Architectural ceramics can be used to create beautiful patterns and when added to facades, can create stunning exteriors of structures.
Below are ten projects in which architectural ceramics have been utilized in creating splendid spatial experiences.
1. Casa Batlló | Ceramics in Architecture
Antoni Gaudi extensively used architectural ceramics in his colourful buildings, creating amalgamations of fantasy art and architecture. In the Catalan Art Nouveau masterpiece—Casa Batlló (construction began in 1877) in Barcelona Spain—Gaudi used blue ceramics in the interiors.
You can find the impressionist artworks and playful trencadís ceramics on the facade, including the scales on the dragon-like roof.
2. Solimene Factory
Paolo Soleri constructed the Palace of Ceramics, also known as the Solimene Factory (1954 – 1956) into the rocky mountains of Vietri Sul Mare, Italy. The facade of this building consists of cylindrical structures clad with numerous green and red ceramic tiles.
The factory itself pays homage to the different phases of the making of ceramic products, with a winding continuous interior space that leads the visitor through the process of ceramic work.
3. Jewish Community Centre
In the city of Mainz in Germany, the Jewish Community Centre (2010) designed by Manuel Herz Architects, stands with a facade made of glazed ceramic tiles of green colour. The community centre was built as a homage to the Holocaust and as a place for the preservation of the Jewish culture. The facade clad with transparent tiles creates a three-dimensional effect.
The architectural ceramic tiles used in this project reflect daylight in the surrounding, thus creating different hues and shades of green on the facade of the community centre.
4. Algueña Music Hall
The facade of Algueña music hall and auditorium (2011) in Algueña, Spain, designed by Cor and Partners, is clad with pearlescent ceramic tiles. It is a type of architectural ceramic that reflects light, giving off a rainbow sheen across the facade.
The pearlescent ceramics have an iridescent property and were extensively used during the Art Nouveau era. This project’s lustrous exterior stands in stark contrast to its surrounding plains.
5. Sant Pau Research Institute | Ceramics in Architecture
The facade of Sant Pau Research Institute in Barcelona, Spain, designed by PICHarchitects and 2BMFG Arquitectes, is made of a latticework of ceramic tiles, aimed at creating a sustainable system.
As a result, the brise soleil is recorded to have reduced the energy demand within the building. This building won the Tile of Spain Awards 2020.
6. Extension of a House in Rural China
A house in Yangqing, China, has been retrofitted with muted green ceramic tiles by Wonder Architects, creating a quaint pastel unit among homogeneous brick and woodwork of the surrounding rural housing units in the vicinity.
7. Albion Library
The brise soleil facade of Albion Library (2015) in Toronto, Canada, has been created using Terracotta, which is a type of ceramic tiling. The structure designed by Perkins and Will has a facade made of specific rainscreen terracotta tiles that also provide insulation used in this project and are made by NBK Architectural Terracotta.
8. Museum Der Kulturen
The roof of the Museum Der Kulturen in Basel, Switzerland, is made of three-dimensional metallic glazed tiles. Herzog and de Meuron designed this extension of the Neoclassical Museum and created custom ceramic components to make the roof. The extension is in contrast to the surrounding red terracotta roofs of the Medieval town of Basel.
Each of the thousands of three-dimensional components on the roof contains three hexagonal elements and a trapezoidal element all working in unison to reflect daylight, creating patterns.
PuLSaTe is a ceramic installation inside the Capitol Designer Studio at Primrose Hill, London, UK. The project designed by Lily Jencks and Nathanael Dorent tests the boundaries of how ceramics have been used either on walls or as flooring. Jencks and Dorent explored Gestalt theory in understanding the perception of distance, shapes and spatial experience in the installation.
Undulating waves of porcelain ceramic tiles of four shades of monochrome arranged in a specific geometric pattern create the illusion of a seamless three-dimensional continuation between floor, walls and ceiling.
10. The Centre for Asian Art | Ceramics in Architecture
The Museum houses an impressive array of Asian Art in Sarasota, Florida, the USA designed by Machado Silvetti flaunts a stunning facade made entirely of green terracotta cladding manufactured by Boston Valley Terra Cotta.
The reflective ceramic cladding creates a geometric aesthetic that redefines the spatial experience of the surrounding courtyard and open areas of the site.
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Erin (2013). PuLSaTe by Lily Jencks and Nathanael Dorent. [online] Contemporist features great ideas from the world of design, architecture, interior design, furniture, lighting, and art. Available at: https://www.contemporist.com/pulsate-by-lily-jencks-and-nathanael-dorent/ [Accessed 1 May 2021].
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