We take a look at the new exhibition coming to Liverpool, set to change the face of ceramics used in buildings.

A new exhibition at RIBA North, supported by Tile of Spain, is set to revolutionise the way designers and architects use ceramics in buildings.

Ceilings, facades and walls may seem commonplace elements of any design and build project, be it residential or commercial, and yet how often do we challenge our preconceptions of the best materials for the job?

At Cerámica, opening on 28th October at RIBA’s new centre on the Liverpool waterfront, anyone interested in pushing the boundaries can learn about the groundbreaking work carried out by ECAlab (Environmental Ceramics for Architecture Laboratory) and their collaborators at ASCER (The Spanish Ceramic Tile Manufacturers’ Association).

RIBA’s gallery spaces will be enlivened by full-scale installations for walls and ceilings by ECAlab – some of these being digitally designed and displaying light-diffusing technology. Whether created by students or by the 11 well- known ceramicists offering their unique interpretations, these works demonstrate conclusively that ceramics have a bright future as a high- performance, environmentally-friendly and aesthetically- pleasing building material for architecture and design.

Director of RIBA North, Suzy Jones, said: “This exhibition showcases how we could inject beautiful, hand-crafted products into our buildings and spaces.”

Above all, Cerámica aims to respond to the environmental issues that architects and anyone working in design and build must face. Buildings account for 40% of our energy use and have the highest CO2 emissions, so addressing this consumption is key to tackling demanding targets to reduce emissions.

Amanda Wanner, ECAlab Co-Founder, explained: “We’ve focused on ceramics because we wanted to investigate


Oct 28-Feb 10 – Cerámica opens to the public at RIBA North Oct 28 – Film and curator tour/ talk by ECAlab at RIBA North Nov18 – Moulding Futures: Artist workshop at RIBA North Dec 8 – Moulding Futures: Architectural Ceramics

Symposium a one-day conference featuring international architects, engineers and ceramicists at RIBA North

Dec 9 – Curator tour by ECAlab at RIBA North

the potential performance of a material with a much smaller environmental impact than the usual materials for facades.

“A simple ceramic tile has an embodied energy of 2.50 MG/ KG whereas aluminium, a typical material used in environmental control and façade systems, has an embodied energy of 227 MG/KG.”

The exhibition is supported by Tile of Spain-ASCER along with Liverpool University and Leeds Beckett University. And, as the creative minds of industry and academia work together to bridge disciplines, it is an exciting and positive result that the outcomes of this exhibition will inform the development of viable architectural products.

Spanish tile manufacturers have already played an important role in exploring the future sustainability of ceramics and ECAlab’s research has been presented at their annual Cevisama tile fair. And there is still more to do to encourage the use of ceramics globally; most architects have specified some kind of ceramic product at some point, but ECAlab believes that there are many unexploited opportunities for tiles in building projects.

A visit to Cerámica offers an inspiring vision of what the future might be like.

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