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An Architect’s Guide To: Terracotta Cladding

Discover the endless textures of terracotta.

Architizer Editors Architizer Editors

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Dating back to the Babylonians, today, terracotta remains deeply celebrated throughout contemporary architecture for its durability, natural textures and vibrant colors. This week, we gathered inspirational resources that exhibit the dramatic possibilities of the architectural material, in order to help you push the boundaries of terracotta cladding.


How to Specify: Terracotta Cladding

“Architizer spoke with Christian Lehmann — Ceramic Engineer and General Manager of NBK North America — who helped us understand the ins-and-outs of terracotta, and its modern applications as a cladding material. Founded in the late-1920s, NBK Terracotta began as a roof tile company and later branched out into architectural terracotta. As a pioneer in the industry, NBK started using terracotta as a rainscreen cladding product for exterior walls in the 1960s. Using terracotta as a cladding product was not very popular at that time,” Lehmann said. This began to change when Renzo Piano began working on large-scale terracotta projects in Europe, demonstrating how the material could be used in new and creative ways. Completed in 1997, one of these projects was Potsdamer Square in Berlin, which features a bespoke curved terracotta façade. “Renzo Piano’s projects were breakthrough,” explained Lehman.” Check out the full story here.


Fired Up: 5 Textured Buildings With Terracotta Screens

“The School of Art & Design at New York State College of Ceramics was conceived “as a large ceramic container for holding art and light.” The design, inspired by both the program and Upstate New York’s rich history of manufacturing ceramics, features an irregular screen of terracotta tubes, which wraps around the upper floors, transforming the façade into a work of sculpture.” Check out the full story here.

The Art of Terracotta: 5 Beautifully Details Examples of Ceramic Cladding

“Designed to teach and encourage visitors to engage with contemporary issues, the Mercy Corps building was built to exemplify a sustainable, community-focused approach. Doubling the size of the historic Portland Packer-Scott Building, the landmark project combined a green roof, with resource-friendly landscaping and a glass and terracotta envelope.” Check out the full story here.

Case Study

Albion District Library by Perkins+Will; Terracotta by NBK Terracotta

How to Detail a Radical, Rainbow-Colored Terracotta Façade

“Terracotta is the mystery material of the modern architectural age. It was massively popular in the ancient world as a roofing product and then regained ground as a 19th-century sculptural skin on buildings. But now, when the majority of structures less than 100 years old are clad in concrete, metal or curtain-wall glass, the long-lived material is making a comeback on contemporary constructions in clever new ways.” Check out the full story here.

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