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Ceramic tiles in urban design

The use of Italian ceramic tiles as a surface covering material in public spaces is now not only technically feasible but is also an excellent way of allowing designers to give free rein to their creativity. Their versatile colours, textures and sizes and their unique, original installation patterns make Italian ceramic tiles essential components of 21st century world architecture. Aesthetics and design have always been amongst the salient features of Italian tiles, making them perfect for the latest home design trends. However, the most recent products are ideal not only for use in the residential sector but also for new building applications such as floor coverings in shopping centres and offices, urban design, places of worship and ventilated exterior walls. Their sophisticated aesthetic qualities are backed by technical characteristics capable of guaranteeing that the floors and ventilated walls on which they are used will maintain their initial beauty and functionality for an extremely long time. Ceramic tiles form a large and varied class of floor and wall covering products, although the types that are most widely used in urban design are porcelain tile, cotto and clinker. The key strength of these products is their ability to combine superb aesthetic qualities with outstanding resistance to the various kinds of stress (mechanical, chemical, hygrometric) to which they are exposed in an exterior environment. It is not easy to find other materials that offer such an effective combination of technical and aesthetic qualities. We shall look briefly at these technical aspects. An external floor in a public area used by a large number of people and vehicles has to withstand extremely high levels of mechanical stress. One particularly significant component of this stress is abrasive wear caused by foot traffic and aggravated by the inevitable presence of abrasive dirt (dust, sand, etc.) on the floor. To withstand this stress and thus ensure a long lifetime in these severe working conditions, hard and highly abrasion-resistant materials are required – and the ceramic tiles mentioned above fulfil these requirements perfectly.