The proposal for Piazza Ceramica, the winning competition entry for Ceramics of Italy pavilion held in October 2012 by e+i studio , emerged from the idea of gently lifting the opposite corners of the given 50×60 platform, affording the opportunity to elegantly house the required program elements of café, information, and restaurant below.
The project design was driven by two main strategies; on the one hand a strong inspiration in the Italian Piazza, as an inviting open public space often articulated with gradual steps that serve as seating zones for social interaction; and on the other, a wish to extensively showcase Italian ceramic tile. This double strategy came together as Piazza Ceramica: an open public space articulated with subtle yet visually striking piazza?like steps in gradients of color achieved entirely by strategic placement of different ceramic tiles.
Altogether nine different types of tile are displayed in all vertical and horizontal surfaces; in an attempt to counter preconceived notions of tile as a rigidly orthogonal material and instead explore its potential in more fluid arrangement, also affording new possibilities of use and public interaction. Thus from the tiled horizontal platform emerge steps which become seating surfaces that in turn become counter and work spaces.
The formal complexity of the pavilion is achieved with a simple system of fabrication and precise digitally generated components. The cantilevering structure which supports the tiled mounds is a gridshell system of CNC cut plywood ribs designed to be flat?packed and assembled onsite as a three dimensional puzzle piece. Similarly, tiles were water?jet cut to ensure precise joinery and pre?set offsite into modular components to ensure a fast onsite assembly. The curved surfaces for the risers are achieved using mosaic ceramic tile which are left ungrouted to allow for repacking as a flat surface for storage and future re?use. The open gathering and eating space has a modulated flooring design with gradient shades of green suggesting different program zones within the larger space; the darker green are programmatically slower areas where furniture is arranged, while the white areas in between suggest flow and access to service areas.