New Uses for Ceramics

French architecture firm and Life Without Buildings favorite, Lacaton Vassal, were invited by CRAFT (Centre de Recherche sur les Arts du Feu et de la Terra a Limoges) to propose new uses for Limoges porcelain.

Their solution is nothing less than inspired: a procelain overlay for structural steel. Designed for steel profiles H, I, and U, the ceramic tiles add both fireproofing and a decorative element to the steel columns.Great idea, right? I’d love to see this go into production, although I do have one suggestion. For the first run, let’s appropriate the world’s largest ceramic – Jeff Koons’ Michael Jackson and Bubbles.

Sure, it may have sold at Sotheby’s for $5,600,000, but I think melting down this travesty of art and applying it to a steel column might really give it some integrity; an extra layer of meaning reminiscent of Robert Rauschenberg’s Erased de Kooning.Plus…you know, we get the added benefit of MELTING A HIDEOUS CERAMIC STATUE OF MICHAEL JACKSON AND HIS MONKEY.


It Will be Beautiful Tomorrow: The Work of Lacaton & Vassal


[Nantes School of Architecture. Via Lacaton & Vassal]

I just got around to reading a brief write-up on Parisian firm Lacaton & Vassal, posted on BD last Friday, and I’m walking away quite impressed. The firm’s philosophy — and resulting projects — combine pragmatism, poetry, and comfort. Comfort being the operative element here. After a 17 year partnership, the firm is poised to move up an echelon with two new major projects. An architecture school in Nantes (pictured) and a business school in Bordeaux.

Flexibility has been a key element in their past work, and the Nantes school is no exception. Much of the building space will remain unprogrammed, and the its primary structure will allow for an unusually high degree of flexibility — including ramps to provide automobiles with access to all three stories of the structure. An Exerpt describing the design process, from the “Il fera beau demain” exhibition catalog:

“…then – that magic moment when the images come back, when the two directions of thought are perfectly attuned, interlock, fuel one another, as if spellbound. (A) moment of euphoria and ease, as if miraculously and unconsciously the joyous, living part that gives the project its meaning had steered the laborious part (concerned with) development.

Born who knows where, experienced somewhere, far away, in Africa or elsewhere, in books of poetry and films, in smoke-filled bars, train compartments, airport concourses, an image, a persistent idea, that one waits for, that one delicately gathers up, that one protects, safeguards, forgets and finds again. It stays there throughout the project and ends up being absolutely indispensable.

Architecture will be straightforward, useful, precise, cheap, free, jovial, poetic and cosmopolitan. It’ll be nice tomorrow.”

I love these guys.

&#183 Lacaton & Vassal [website]
&#183 Less Hadid More Giant Women [Life Without Buildings]
&#183 New Uses for Ceramics [Life Without Buildings]