News & Stories

Saphirkeramik and glass sculpture – our cooperation with mudd architects for Venice 2023 art-exhibition

MuDD Architects is known for projects that combine innovative cutting-edge technology with natural materials. LAUFEN manufactured the elements in Saphirkeramik for a mixed-media sculpture to be exhibited at Venice's prestigious Palazzo Bembo during the 2023 Biennale from 20 May 2023 until 26 November 2023.

The exhibition “Time Space Existence” organized and hosted by the European Cultural Centre, opens soon at Palazzo Bembo in Venice. It brings together an international and eclectic group of participants, working in different disciplines of architectural expressions, in order to stimulate an exchange among architects, universities, legendary masters, emerging studios, established global practices, designers, artists and engineering companies.

LAUFEN participates in cooperation with MuDD Architects based in Barcelona and Paris, which are known for their projects combining innovative cutting-edge technology with natural materials, and FAU School of Architecture (Joseph Choma). The result of this collaboration is an intricate 1.8-meter-high art sculpture consisting of 12 ceramic and 10 glass modules glued together with a high-strength resin.

MuDD Architects, FREEZE AND CLAY, sculpture for exposition during Venice Biennale 2023, produced by LAUFEN in Gmunden (AUT)

FREEZE AND CLAY  — glass and ceramics as archaic materials and traditional craft techniques

The sculpture entitled “Freeze and Clay” incorporates elements and technique valued by the architect and interior designer Stephanie Chaltiel. Glass and clay ceramics, two of the world’s oldest materials went through an age-old manual production process which requires high temperatures and solid know-how. “In our celebration of high-quality craftmanship, we combined new technologies and processes with ancient ones,” says Chaltiel.

Secondly, the material mix lends the sculpture an overall lightness. “We purposely chose transparent glass polyhedra with their light pink splashes of color, reminiscent of crystals and pieces of ice, to make the 1.80-meter-high sculpture look delicate, almost as though it is floating in space” she added.

French Glass, Dutch 3D Printing and Ceramic Expertise from LAUFEN Austria

In the Toulouse glassblowing workshop TiPii Atelier, the 10 glass elements were hand-blown into a mould that had previously been 3D-printed from concrete by another specialist, Vertico in Eindhoven. The coarse structures of the concrete print, which were transferred 1:1 to the glass, made the glass surface particularly decorative, so the original plan for further treatment of the glass was then scrapped.

For the production of the ceramic elements, MuDD Architects chose the traditional LAUFEN location in Gmunden, Austria, as their partner. With more than 100 years of experience in the manufacture of ceramic objects, precise 3D moulds were first milled for each of the seven sizes, which were then cast with Saphirkeramik, a patented high-pressure-resistant material. The open side of each of the 12 polyhedra was cut by hand, then fired in the kiln at 1,250 degrees. Finally, a matt, clay-coloured glaze was applied and fired again.

MuDD Architects and LAUFEN, FREEZE AND CLAY, details of sculpture Venice Biennale 2023

Assembly and transportation challenges

“Despite our long experience, especially with Saphirkeramik, and even though in this case everything went perfectly according to plan, art projects like this one are always inspiring and exciting for us” says LAUFEN’s Director Research and Innovations Alfred Mittermair, who was also responsible for the final assembly of the sculpture in Gmunden.

Here, all ceramic and glass elements were assembled precisely by hand according to the artist’s 3D specifications and glued with a high-performance resin. According to Mittermair, this was the biggest challenge, because the adhesive had to absorb the different compression and bending forces of the materials and still guarantee 100 percent adhesive strength. This was an quite important specification for “Freeze and Clay”, which looks delicate, but weighs in at a good 80 kg.

On display from 20 May 2023 in Venice, Palazzo Bembo (2nd floor)


(find a version in German language of this article on

MuDD Architects and LAUFEN, FREEZE AND CLAY, transport of the sculpture to Venice Biennale 2023



About the venue:

In its sixth edition, the exhibition “Time Space Existence” is regulary organised by the ECC as a parallel event to the Venezia Biennale Architettura which opens 20 of May. This year, the Biennale is curated by Lesley Lokko, a Ghanaian-Scottish architect and novelist and founder of the Graduate School of Architecture (GSA) at the University of Johannesburg.

Other participants in the Time Space Existence exhibition:
MIT, University of Oregon, UIC, Kengo Kuma Architects, Gerber Architects, Archi-tectonics, Penn Design, FIU and many others.


About Stephanie Chaltiel (MuDD Architects)

Bernard Tschumi and Rem Koolhaas know this French architect and interior designer well, who, right after collaborating with them, co-founded the MuDD Architects studio in Barcelona in 2019. Her approach to building does not go unnoticed: Stephanie Chaltiel recovers local materials and traditional construction techniques to conceive an architecture far from concrete, much greener and more ecological, which also uses drones and frame technologies. Because they are fast, clean, and they offer Stephanie the possibility of building or rehabilitating spaces – even remotely – in crisis situations or in communities at risk.