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Academics’ architecture exhibition opens in Liverpool


A new exhibition exploring the use of ceramics and technology in architecture has opened at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) North this month, supported by Leeds Beckett University.

Ceramica exhibition ceiling

Cerámica will run until 10 February 2018 at RIBA’s new national architecture centre on the Liverpool Waterfront, RIBA North. It is the centre’s second exhibition and showcases the future use of ceramics and technology in architecture.

The exhibition is presented by ECAlab (Environmental Ceramics for Architecture Laboratory), which is co-directed by Amanda Wanner, Senior Lecturer in Architecture at Leeds Beckett, and Dr Rosa Urbano Gutierrez, Senior Lecturer in Architecture at the University of Liverpool, and the exhibition is supported by Tile of Spain-ICEX (Spanish Association of Ceramic Tile Manufacturers – Spanish Institute for Foreign Trade). It is intended that the outcomes from the exhibition will inform the development of viable architectural products.

Ceramica exhibition opening

Cerámica shows how traditional ceramic techniques and digital engineering processes can be used together to produce more meaningful and sustainable architectural elements.  Using new technologies, British and international ceramicists have created a series of ceramic ceilings and walls that show different vernacular languages, reflecting local heritage and identity. Highlights of the exhibition include full-scale prototypes of light-diffusing facades and ceilings.  

Amanda said: “The exhibition is really exciting – it is the culmination of a lot of research which has happened since 2011 and Leeds Beckett has been very supportive, both financially and through the support of my colleagues in the School of Art, Architecture and Design. I’ve been working with ceramicists for about 25 years and find it inspiring to work in this cross-disciplinary way. The course that I teach is all about bringing together different approaches to design so I am really looking forward to our students coming across to see the exhibition and hope that it will be inspirational to them.”

Director of RIBA North, Suzy Jones, said: “This exhibition looks at the future of architectural elements and combines the best aspects of global connectivity and digital capabilities with local craftsmanship. Ceilings, facades and walls may seem rather banal, but this exhibition showcases how we could inject beautiful, hand crafted products into our buildings and spaces.”

Ceramica curator tour of the exhibition

The exhibition features full-scale prototypes of light-diffusing facades and ceilings, accompanied by a film explaining the experimental design methodologies explored at the ECAlab. The exhibition will be supported by the Moulding Futures Symposium in December, to discuss prospective scenarios and futures for ceramics within architecture.

Professor Stuart Walker, Professor of Design for Sustainability at Lancaster University, said: “Design for sustainability demands a new outlook, a new way of seeing ourselves in relation to the world. It requires not only a rediscovery of local knowledge, practices, materials and forms but also a sharing of best practices and innovative possibilities through the opportunities offered by modern digital and communication technologies. Such technologies enable hitherto unachievable possibilities for local-scale making, efficient use of materials, and sophisticated local solutions. We are at the beginning of a new era, one limited only by the human imagination. The Cerámica exhibition offers an inspiring vision of this potential future.”

Since its inception in 2011, ECAlab has developed a number of research programmes which look to explore the possibilities of ceramics for sustainable technologies, while examining the role of emerging digital technologies alongside traditional ceramic craftsmanship skills.  ECAlab’s aim is to develop new applications for ceramics within an architectural context and introduce emerging designers with new ways of thinking about this material.

Images copyright RIBANorth.

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