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Ceramic surfaces in urban design

di Giorgio Timellini, Centro Ceramico Bologna

The design of urban spaces is a complex, multidisciplinary process that covers everything from planning the intended uses and layout of the spaces to specification and design of the constituent elements (buildings, squares, accessories, etc.). The design of urban spaces should meet various types of requirements: the specific needs for development of the city or the area under consideration; aesthetic functionality, in other words creation of an environment that is attractive and pleasant to live in; durability of the various components of the environment in the expected conditions of use; economic compatibility and sustainability, in other words costs calculated over the entire useful lifetime of the designed space.

All the above-mentioned requirements are important, and fulfilling only some while neglecting others can have disastrous consequences.

Town planners and designers are focusing ever greater attention on the human and social values of the urban fabric in an awareness of the need to create cities with meaningful spaces where human beings can live, not just survive.

All elements making up the urban landscape contain surfaces. These include the external walls of buildings, the surfacing of roads, squares, pavements and walkways, steps, etc. These surfaces represent the interface between urban design elements and the environment.

As a result, they are exposed to stresses of environmental origin, which may be mechanical, chemical, thermal or hygrometric, caused by human activities carried out in the urban environment or associated with the quality of the air or atmospheric agents, etc. At the same time, these surfaces make a significant, if not exclusive, contribution to the aesthetic impact of the urban design elements and components and therefore to their aesthetic integration into the urban landscape.

The surfaces we have mentioned (façades/external walls of buildings, pavements and walkways, stairs, squares, etc.) can be covered with various materials. These materials include natural stone, glass, metal, concrete, brick, composite materials and polymeric conglomerates, and ceramic tiles.


Some significant examples of the use of ceramic tiles in urban design applications are shown in the Projects section of this website (“urban landscape”).

The following are a few examples

Residential Complex Bosco Verticale – Milan

Complex Ex-Metalmetron – Savona

School Complex – Massalengo (Lodi)

ChristChurch Presbyterian – Atlanta, GA (USA)

Natali Building – La Spezia

Residential Building – Riccione (RN)

Smart City – La Valletta (Malta)

Railway Station – Sopot (Poland)

Panariagroup Headquarters – Finale Emilia (MO)

New Logistic Center Lamborghini – Sant’Agata Bolognese (BO)

30 Jellicoe Commercial Building – Johannesburg (South Africa)

Sveavägen 44 Building – Stockolm (Sweden)

San Pio da Pietrelcina Church – Rome

New Parish Church – Medolla (Mo)

Line 1 Metro Stations – Athens (Greece)

Private Residence – Bologna

Villa Nesi – Ivrea

Yangjae Dong Business Center – Seoul (Korea)

Juniper Networks Headquarters – Sunnyvale, CA (USA)

STU 109 B Residential Complex – Parma

Mirage Headquarters – Pavullo (MO)

Piazza Falcone e Borsellino Square – Spezzano (MO)

Piazza della Bandiera di Stato Square – Baku (Azerbaijan)

Soweto Theatre – Johannesburg (South Africa)

University Residence Camplus Bononia – Bologna

Protoshop Lamborghini – Sant’Agata Bolognese (BO)

Residential Complex Ogrody Grabiszyńskie – Wroclaw (PL)

Nuovo Teatro dell’Opera Theater – Florence

Multifunctional Complex Cvjetni – Zagreb (Croatia)

Simplon Udvar Residential Complex – Budapest (Hungary)

BLA Library and Multifunctional Cultural Centre – Fiorano (MO)

Private Residence – Vitoria (Spain)

Sant’Agostino Multifunctional Center – Paderno (MI)

Ikea Offices – Helsinborg (Svezia)

Mokrà Mediatheque – Brno (Czech Republic)

Shopping Center – Olmo di Martellago (Ve)

Piazza Borgo Prino Square – Imperia

Zamet Multifunctional Center – Rijeka (Croatia)

Piazza dell’Indipendenza Square – Malabo (Equatorial Guinea)