©Marco Introini

Italy 2010Ceramic Cloud

Reggio Emilia

We were asked to create a monument in a road roundabout in Casalgrande, an area of Reggio Emilia known for its great tradition and technology for ceramics. This roundabout is surrounded by the beautiful landscape characteristic of that part of Italy.

We took the challenge of involving the ceramic tile as an architectural element itself, avoiding its conventional use as a mere cladding. Just after developing a specific detail of how to panel and connect standard ceramic tiles, we understood the possibilities of how to assembly and organize them creating different structures.

With this unique structure we wanted to avoid creating a monument that stands in the middle of the site: we wanted it to become part of the site. Therefore we decided to create a wall that simply divides the site in two making it a special place with a dual character, far from the usual and banal roundabouts. Our anti-monumental approach went far enough to decide aligning the direction of the ceramic wall with the road that leads to it so as to make it almost disappear: when reaching the site, drivers will only perceive a roundabout divided by a vertical line. Only when going around it, along the movement of the car the wall extends until appearing with its whole length of 45 meters.

In our buildings we usually work with concepts of anti-dimension or anti-volume but in a project like this with such an especial site (a roundabout only approachable by cars) we wanted to experiment on these concepts’ relationship with dynamic principles such as time, movement and sequential perception.

Seeing this wall growing during its months of construction, we realized how dynamically its light structure’s transparency and the subtle reflection of its fine glazed white ceramic where interacting with the surrounding site and the weather. This other way of dynamism appeared to us as a very unique soft, light and ever-changing phenomena… and that is why we have called it Ceramic Cloud.

Team Javier Villar Ruiz, Ryuya Umezawa* Publication GA JAPAN 109 Photography ©︎ Marco Introini