Casalgrande Ceramic Cloud is the first work of architecture in Italy by Kengo Kuma, and also a new symbolic gate of the ceramics district of Emilia Romagna, located in the municipality of Casalgrande, in the province of Reggio Emilia. We were asked to create a monument for a road roundabout in front of Casalgrande Padana, a company that has been producing advanced ceramic materials for over 50 years. Being able to work with such a capable manufacturer, we took the challenge of involving the ceramic tile as an architectural element itself, avoiding its conventional use as a mere cladding.
With this unique structure we wanted to avoid creating a monument that stands in the middle of the site: we wanted it to become part of the site. Therefore we decided to create a wall that simply divides the site in two making it a special place with a dual character, far from the usual and banal roundabouts. Our anti-monumental approach went far enough to decide aligning the direction of the ceramic wall with the road that leads to it so as to make it almost disappear: when reaching the site, drivers will only perceive a roundabout divided by a vertical line. Only when going around it, along the movement of the car the wall extends until appearing with its whole length of 45 meters. In our buildings we usually work with concepts of anti-dimension or anti-volume but in a project like this with such a special site (a roundabout only approachable by cars) we wanted to experiment on these concepts’ relationship with dynamic principles such as time, movement and sequential perception.
Seeing this wall growing during its months of construction, we realized how dynamically its light structure’s transparency and the subtle reflection of its fine glazed white ceramic where interacting with the surrounding site and the weather. This other way of dynamism appeared to us as a very unique soft, light and ever-changing phenomena… And that is why we have named it as a Ceramic Cloud.
The ceramic material is tested for its structural purposes. Its 3D structure is composed of nine layers of large technical porcelain stoneware slabs (60x120cm) – standard production items by Casalgrande Padana – placed one onto the others and interconnected by means of thin hidden threaded bars.
Casalgrande Padana S.p.a.
Javier Villar Rujz
Norihiro Ejiri, Pieter Ochelen | Ejiri Structural Engineers (Engineering) Alfonso Acocella | Università degli Studi di Ferrara (Architecture)
Luigi Alini | Università degli Studi di Catania (Architecture)
Angelo Silingardi | CCdP (Urban planing)
Enrico Rombi | CCdP (Structures)
Alberto Zen | CCdP (Structures) Cesare Brizzi, Luigi Massa | Casalgrande Padana S.p.a. (Systems) Mario Nanni, Federica Soprani (Lightning) Nadia Giullari, Elisa Grisendi, Sara Costi, Veronica Dal Buono (Communication)