Colorful Ceramic Tile Floods Seat of Learning: Jaume I Institute, Ontinyent

Oct 27, 2011

Designing with ceramic tile is practically a history lesson in Iberian architecture. For centuries, this robust and timeless building material has proven to be both immensely versatile and breathtakingly beautiful, enhancing the aesthetic qualities of the architecture it overlays.

Colorful ceramic tile helps orient people to their location within the building.


At this year’s Tile of Spain Awards, a much anticipated annual event in Spanish architectural circles chaired by Alberto Campo Baeza, one finalist stood out for its seamless blend of functionality and design. The Institute for Higher Education Jaume I Project in Otinyent, Spain comprises a series of five interrelated buildings. The main building houses the communal areas and acts as an axis that joins the four other structures. A series of glass corridors and ceramic tile patios extend outward from this central axis, and all are bathed in vivid color from the extensive use of brilliantly hued tile both inside and out.


This use of tile not only allowed architect Ramon Esteve Cambra to contrast the underlying muscular spirit of the concrete forms with pools of color, but will enable the students and faculty who use the space every day to orientate themselves and create reference points throughout. “The different colored glazes make it easy to know where you are in the building. They make the routes around the inside more dynamic and give a warm feel to the spaces,” says Esteve.

Using ceramic tile, a traditional product with a low lifecycle cost that comes in a range of colors and formats, enabled the architect to cater to the requirements of all the building’s finishes, both interior and exterior with one single material. For this installation, 8″ x 8″ tiles with 4″ x 4″ trims were used in a selection of vibrant colorsL yellow, green, violet and red among them. Colored grout matched the tile to enhance the visual effect.


The installation options for tile and the many ways in which it can be utilized make ceramic the ideal element to link the interior and exterior of the building. In addition, the material’s intrinsic properties, being both durable and hygienic, were very important considerations for this kind of building. Versatile and visually impactful, ceramic tile provides architects and high traffic educational institutions with a smart architectural solution.

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