The use of ceramic in construction dates all the way back to 30,000 BC, when clay mortars were used to hold a structure made of branches and canes together. Although we’ve come a long way from branch houses, ceramics are still constantly evolving. New technologies have made ceramic tiles one of the most innovative architectural materials available today, and the youngest generation of architects is jumping on board.
Spanish ceramic tile has gone from being a material of secondary importance to being the star of major design projects, emblematic buildings and signature interiors styled by young creatives. Young architects are not only finding aesthetic pleasure from using ceramic tiles in their projects, but are also receiving well-deserved praise as they reinvigorate the use of ceramics as a primary design material.
Renovation of a Masía in l’Empurdá by Arquitectura G. Photography: José Hevia.
One example is young Alicante, Spain based architecture practice Crystalzoo, whose colorful design for the “Bello Horizonte Administration Block in La Nucía” merited an Architizer A+Awards architecture and design prize for the best public building of the year. The jury was impressed by both the design and geometry of the glazed stoneware tiles along with the building’s construction, which fulfills the basic tenets of sustainability.
‘Bello Horizonte Administration Block in La Nucía’ by Crystalzoo. Photography: David Frutos.
El Equipo Creativo is another young architectural studio that has applied ceramic tile in masterly fashion in some of its most expressive work. Most notably, the Blue Wave Cocktail Bar in Barcelona, Spain was voted the most beautiful bar in the world in 2016. Award winning ceramic tile projects are no stranger to them. In 2015 the firm won an FX International Design Award for the Disfrutar Restaurant, where ceramics are the dominant feature but have been used in such a way that it is natural, humble and inviting.
The Blue Wave cocktail bar by El Equipo Creativo. Photography: Adrià Goula.
Due to a wide spread interest in ceramic tiles, ASCER, the Association of Spanish Ceramic Tile Manufacturers, has founded an international network of Ceramic Tile Studies Departments in many leading schools of architecture. The aim of the network is to teach future professionals about ceramic so that they understand its many uses and benefits.
This story was originally published in Ceraspaña 38, a journal published by ASCER / Tile of Spain to promote the use and benefits of Spanish ceramic tiles in contemporary architecture and interior design. Read the article and view past issues HERE.