Ceramics in Architecture: with AIA Europe

Ceramic in architecture: Innovative solutions for the structural challenges of the future

Ceramics - the oldest material mankind. Fascinating in terms of feel, features and application options. In the meantime, international architects are able to realise projects which, until only a few years ago, would have been unthinkable. Martin Bechthold, Professor of Architectural Technology from Harvard University spoke, at the invitation of Laufen, at the American Institute of Architects Conference  in Vienna on 2nd October in the Architekturzentrum (Az W).

The basis of his lecture “Ceramics: Innovative Material System for Advanced Architecture” was inspired from his book - Ceramic Material Systems in Architecture and Interior Design -which has just been published by Birkhauser-Verlag and was created in collaboration with Anthony Kane and Nathan King. "The use of ceramics in architecture was limited for a long time on the decoration of surfaces. Innovations in materials technology, production methods and installation systems now allow the combination of the emotional appeal of the material with new functionality. Ceramic materials have evolved into total solutions for facades, roofs and interior walls. " said Bechthold.

Architectural ceramics, more than surface decoration

The clay mixtures used today, when precisely prepared can be customised using computerised kilns so that the material behaviour corresponds exactly to the respective requirements. Inflexible systems of industrial mass production are complemented by manufacturers who work closely with architects in the development of individual solutions for buildings. Project-specific planning of ceramic components are increasingly supported by digital tools that capture the entire life cycle of the material - from the production to Teilwiese robotic assembly Bechthold writes in the preface of his book.

The glaze technology has always been the most forward-looking aspect of ceramic production. This tradition continues with modern achievements like glazes with self-cleaning or pollution-reducing effect.

Performative ceramics

These systems consist of ceramic elements, which are arranged in a separate layer and interact with their environment in a new and performative manner. Such elements can now selectively control the transfer of moisture, heat or sound. They also serve to buffer and modulate daylight.

These developments offer architects and planners today new opportunities to design aesthetically appealing ceramic systems that accept both constructive, and in relation to the environment, an active function and go far beyond the ubiquitous tile as a solution for water-resistant, durable surfaces. "Ceramic material systems comprise the entire ecosystem ': from raw material extraction and processing, production and assembly of elements to their ultimate reuse and recycling. Architectural ceramics have long played only a minor role, but is today increasingly in modern construction and design culture."says Bechthold.

In the course of his presentation Bechthold also presented inspiring work from the best examples of current ceramic systems and the most promising new developments and research that will probably shape the future of ceramic elements and processes.

SaphirKeramik: the material of the future

Bechthold shares the enthusiasm with regard to the diverse applications of ceramics with Laufen" explains Michael Kindl, LAUFEN Austria.

SaphirKeramik is a world first - a completely new, extremely powerful and highly versatile material that has been developed by Laufen. SaphirKeramik impresses with its brilliant white colour and a specific hardness and flexural strength corresponding to that of steel. With this high-tech material Laufen developed an entire generation of washbasins with very architectural, minimalist and modern forms, without having to forego the advantages of traditional ceramics.

Since 2013 LAUFEN has been manufacturing washbasins using the SaphirKeramik material including from the series Living Square and Kartell by Laufen. Earlier this year new series were launched: VAL and INO. The latter are developed in cooperation with Konstantin Grcic (Wallpaper* Designer of the Year) and Toan Nguyen and were already awarded design prizes. The innovation SaphirKeramik is also part of the current book of Univ.-Prof. Martin Bechthold (Ceramic Material Systems in Architecture and Interior Design).

More photos from the event [click here]


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