Timeless trend in haptics and optics

Daniela Wienen 08/05/2019

For some time now, the trend in terracotta tiles has been towards natural material. Whereas creative architects and planners have often preferred the pastel-like surfaces (engobed technique), the sintering technique with the use of metal oxide or the almost immeasurable variety of coloured glazes, today more and more facade tiles and baguettes in natural shades – often provided with textures – are being used in the concepts of modern buildings.

NBK therefore also offers a wide range of colours for the natural terracotta, which can be individually embossed with textures.

The beauty of natural terracotta is revealed on the one hand by the variety of firing colours that result from the raw ceramic by means of mineral admixture, grain sizes, firing height and firing control as well as the content of organic substances. The spectrum to be achieved in this way covers a wide range of natural shades. Lighter natural shades with the appearance of white, sand, yellow and taupe alternate with variations from grey to blue ceramic. The natural palette also offers vibrant colours, allowing an immeasurable range of shades of red, brown and black.

On the other hand, natural ceramics use different surface structures as optical and haptic signals. The creative touch of these forms of expression ranges from natural to combed and peeled elements. This allows the individual impression to be emphasised on the façade. But colouring and structure alone are not everything. With certain techniques, natural terracotta can be further enhanced in their form of expression, and their own character can be formed.

Over the decades, NBK Keramik has developed mechanical processes that give natural terracotta a further exclusivity that enables creative architectural concepts.

Common to all these techniques is the processing of the ceramic surface, the “texture”, as experts call the resulting optics. Long lines can be achieved by combing in fine or medium. When fireclay is brought in and then stripped, the result is a “peeled” surface with grooves that speak their own language. By means of the technique of profiling in depressions and heights, in equal and different widths, the matt ceramic surface receives an additional expressiveness. The process of introducing certain oxides produces irregular dots that stand out from the rest of the surface.

One reason for the trend towards natural terracotta with natural colours and textures is certainly the predicate of sustainability that manifests itself in this form of ceramic façade. In addition, the terracotta, as a natural, stable building material designed for a very long life, is equipped with virtually unlimited resistance to rain, frost and chemical influences. Thus, objects with these facades also prove to be role models in these respects. As for example the twin building of the Volksbank Weißenhorn shows. Who would have thought that one building had already been in existence for ten years, whereas the other building was erected only recently? As an ensemble, both appear to have been cast in one piece: the traces of time have simply passed by the natural terracotta.

About the Author