Five iconic tiled exteriors

Five iconic tiled exteriors

December 18, 2023, from Ceramic Central Weekly

Few things pack a punch like a tiled exterior. Elegant, timeless, intricate, and striking, these iconic buildings all have one wonderful thing in common.

1) Eastern Columbia Building, Los Angeles

This thirteen story Art Deco jewel in the Broadway Theatre and Commercial District was designed by Claud Beelman as the former HQ of the Eastern Outfitting Company and the Columbia Outfitting Company. Now it’s the home of 140 luxury condominiums whose inhabitants are free to enjoy the incredible facade of glossy turquoise terra cotta tiles decorated with sunburst patters, geometric shapes, zigzags, chevrons and stylised animals.

2) Casa Vicens, Barcelona

Built between 1883 and 1885 as a summer house for the Vicens family, Casa Vicens as the first major project of Antoni Gaudí. Now serving as a museum, a love for tile is found throughout with ceramic ceiling tiles made in pressed papier-mâché in the bedroom and specifically designed marigold and dianthus motif tiles made for the outside. Each of these tiles was created using the ‘trepa’ casting technique which entails cutting a stencil out of a water-resistant material such as waxed paper or plastic and placing it over the prepared tile surface. The exposed areas are brushed or sponged with a glaze to form unique pieces.

3) New Synagogue, Mainz

Although less well known than the Eastern Columbia Building and Casa Vicens, the New Synagogue in Mainz, Germany is no less an iconic piece of architecture. Strikingly angled, unusually shaped, and coated in a sea of green glazed ceramic tiles, the building’s architect Manuel Herz designed each detail to symbolise Kedushah (Hebrew for Holiness).

4) Suburban Station, Philadelphia

Another incredible Art Deco delight, Suburban Station was built in 1930 to replace the nearby Broad Street Station. The stations dramatic, dark exterior softly reflects its surroundings with delicate motifs lining the doors and decorating the top.

5) Bilbao Concordia, Bilbao

Built in 1902, this impressive train station is heralded as a prime example of Belle Époque architecture, with its Art Nouveau soul blending touches of whimsy with extravagance for a beautiful exterior that calls for attention.