Welcome to CFile’s Year-End Review! We’re revisiting our favorite posts going back to when we first started publishing. They’re arranged in no particular order. We’re not commenting on the quality of what we did (or didn’t) include. Rather, we’re reminiscing about all of the fine things ceramics has given us since our founding in 2013. Think of it as a victory lap after a fantastic couple of years. We may revisit some of these lists in the spring for a special project, so please let us know what you think in the comments.
Below are just 18 of the dozens of dozens of architecture posts we’ve written since 2013.
The superstructure, just like the substructure, is symmetrical in two directions. The shape resembles a rugby ball. Together, the two totally different volumes form a new urban entity. There are also two contrasting interpretations in the interior: the classical succession of rectangular museum halls below versus the fluid, open spaces in the elliptical volume above.
Designed by Sauerbruch Hutton and manufactured by NBK Keramik GmbH, a Hunter Douglas company, the colorful facade was created both to connect and to enliven nearby structures. The architects placed the array of terracotta rods in front of colored, perforated aluminum sheeting to create a gentle veil on the outside of the structure. Sunlight shining on the facade casts a pattern of shadows that shifts throughout the day, further enhancing the design’s dynamic effect.
This is not actually ceramic clad in the physical sense but it is totally wrapped in the culture of blue and white pottery so we bent the rules. It’s designed to create a “unforgettable arrival experience” when people enter and it does. Francine Houben, Mecanoo’s creatives directive director:
“…coming up the escalators, the impressive ceiling with the historic map of Delft unfolds. When you look outside, you see the city and the old station as a modern View of Delft by the painter Johannes Vermeer.”
The façade cladding is an innovative three-dimensional stoneware tile that Libeskind designed with the Italian company Casalgrande Padana. The geometric ceramic panels not only create an expressive metallic pattern, but they possess sustainable properties such as air purification. They are self-cleaning.
“This white laminated ceramic skin envelops almost the whole structure, with an irregular pattern of windows and openings, but leaving the old façade on the front section free and visible, where the cafeteria is located, and also providing another striking feature at the rear, where the offices are located.
“The brightness and semi-transparency of the shiny glazed surface, together with the resulting gap between the external layer and the building below, makes this an extremely cutting-edge building.”
Today the building attracts praise for the polychromatic life it brings to its neighborhood. And it not just the color but also the precise delineation of the edges of the tile (and how they flash glazed light at the windows) and also the complex structure and sculptural relief detailing of the tiles themselves. And on a green note, Central St Giles scored an ‘Excellent’ BREEAM rating for sustainability: 80% of heating is from a Biomass boiler, rainwater is collected and reused, and the planted roof terraces add to local biodiversity. The project is by Renzo Piano and Fletcher Priest Architects.
Tile of Spain, a private organization whose primary objective is to support Spain’s ceramic tile manufacturers and the industry, reports that one of the project winners, the Children Education Center & Children Innovation Center building in Paterna, Spain, seeks a relationship with children, integrating architecture as an emotional component into their education. Foursquare Arquitectos of Valencia, Spain designed the buildings that resemble cylindrical blocks with colorful facades of ceramic tile. The idea is to generate spaces and opportunities for creativity. The building encourages a transmission of sensations from both inside and out, creating different spaces that encourage exploration. Natucer of Onda, Spain, manufactured the tiles.
OAB (Office of Architecture in Barcelona) clad this home in Spain in white tile. The architects said that the tile is anchored on hidden stainless steel separators along all vertical and horizontal surfaces of the building. The house was designed with a sanded matte stainless steel angle that goes around the cladding and highlights the changes in the floor plan. The tile is split in places to facilitate ventilation and indirect light.
The mixture of ceramics and plastics optimizes the surface and structure, which is important for the temperature regulation inside the house. The wavelike ceramic plates decorate the facade and protect against strong solar radiation. The energy-saving roof consists of inflatable plastic bubbles. It was designed in collaboration with artist Frederic Amat (who designed the tiles) and ceramist Toni Cumella (who produced them). The space age has arrived, but it is still a work in progress.
The word “kitsch” has been used to describe many of the home’s features, and they may be. But the loudness of each piece of art adorning the home stands out for the purposes of telling the story. Two saint-like paintings of Cope’s life act as a kind of Rosetta Stone for the major plot points. Supplemental materials, such as tile work, illustrate individual scenes from Cope’s life, building the character of this woman further. Grayson explains much of the story in his interviews with reporters, but I suspect that it could be pieced together without his help. Everything one needs is given prominence, and is then referenced in other works inside the home. One has only to explore long enough before the details start falling into place. The home rewards those who pay close attention.
Botta once commented that museums were important because they are “new” meeting places, which satisfy a more widespread free time. It’s the architect’s task to design such buildings with that in mind.
“The concept for the pavilion was inspired by traditional Chinese landscape painting—rock formations, rice fields, and prehistoric outcrops. The pavilion aims to tell the story of civilization, technology and the 21st Century as well as offer a space for reflection and a celebration of different cultures.”
Some of their projects are almost awkward on first glance, but they compel you to keep looking and you soon discover that they are sophisticated and assured. Seen in profile from the street, the silhouette of V House is that of a child’s drawing of a house sitting atop a wider rectangle. However, the left side of the lower rectangle is “missing” to form a portico. A large window on the ground floor that echos the dimensions of the top floor “house” sits to the right of center. It is a deceptively balanced and compelling design.
We were surprised to learn from the architects that the number of volumes used in the complex is actually greater than the functional needs of the museum. The excess here is for spatial reasons. The circular forms create a cumulative effect that the designers say establishes a relationship to the spaces in between.
Though technically billed as a museum, Russia’s Museum for Rural Labor in the western Kaluga Oblast region could easily be mistaken for a monument, something that deifines labor rather than studying it. Rather than a shrine for agricultural artifacts, the museum presents these objects as ageless, things that are sublime in their simplicity.
Two factors give this project a unique and otherworldly appearance. It’s about one-and-a-half times larger than a typical farm building. The designers state this creates a sense of nostalgia. For many of the old-timers in town, the building will be as large as such buildings appeared when the residents were children.
But it’s the building’s ghostly sheen that makes the space truly amazing. It’s made entirely of glass which has the features of a farmhouse printed on it. The features sometimes fade off, allowing an unobstructed view of the outside.
Love contemporary ceramic art in architecture? Let us know in the comments.