Sustainability has become the topic of the moment. It is not merely a word of the times but a vital action that can preserve our planet. The architectural and construction industry has absorbed this ideology very seriously and I can see the ceramic industry is playing an important role in retaining a “greener” future for the next generation.

More and more designers and consumers are using wood grain printed tiles to replace its natural origin as well as nature inspired texture and foliage silhouette patterns to enhance an interior’s connection with nature without robbing of its limited resources. Manufacturing techniques within the industry has become more environmentally conscious and a pathway of green thinking is starting to spread like pollen. All these action leads to a true beginning of a “greener” environment and it is this evidence that inspires me to design the Galleggiando Project (Italian word for FLOAT) exhibition pavilion for Ceramics of Italy Organization.

Inspired by mass foliage, individual leaf and sunrays piercing through trees on a bright summer’s day, I believe a pavilion for Ceramic of Italy should represent a revolutionary symbolism that embraces and represents its dedication to the preservation of nature. The thought of a tree and a landscape becomes an obvious choice but rather than interpreting these elements too literally, I also want to capture the dynamic change of nature that is constant as well as the homogenous quality of the tile formation structure.

Balloons represent a sense of childhood in my eyes; they show an ethereal lightness and delicacy to their nature and their movement is free from preset constraints. But then if you look at Metalized Plastic Foil Balloons (the mirror finish balloons) they retain an entirely different quality; seemingly like a solid piece of metal but light as a feather. This initiated the idea of the Balloon Foliage.

Using 1546 balloons of mostly the same mirror finish, they are laminated by double sided tape to each other. Elongated “sausage like” balloons are chosen because of a larger vertical surface area for lamination as well as the bottom section resembles that of a parabolic lens. The necessity of the lens is to reflect the lower pavilion aesthetic and color while also increasing artificial illumination index using very few light equipments. Through this construction a “Mirror Balloon Foliage Canopy” is initiated. Helium gas will fill each of these balloons thus a floating structure can be created.

The visitors pavilion is inspired by the landscape of farmlands in Anhui Provence of China where layers of texture and color are superimposed onto each other. This platform is made entirely out of ceramic tiles but organized in huge quantity of green hue or similar saturation strips. By creating this combination, we can manufacture a dynamic landscape of tiles that seems to flow into infinity without noticing joins or grouting details. There are also “hills” within the pavilion that act as partitions zoning for different areas and they are also cladded in the same strip pattern tiles.

The reason why the pavilion has to be mostly in a green saturation is for the balloon foliage above to absorb its image and color to the lower parabolic part of its elongated structure. Because of the quantity of balloons present, a pixilated green tint will be covered through its reflection. This will in turn transform the mirror like balloon canopy into a tree like covering akin to that of foliage. Since there will be constant movement of people and equipment below the canopy, the reflection will also be absorbed and creating a constantly changing pixilated sculpture when visitors look above.

The Galleggiando Pavilion will become an oasis within the exhibition center and people will come from generic corporate display stalls into a nature inspired metaphorical “tile and balloon” garden. Because tiles are homogenous in nature and are used in combination to form a functional element, the balloon foliage represents this ideology of single element repetitions. There are also cluster of translucent balloons within the canopy that act as natural light filtration for the pavilion structure as the design can also be adapted to outdoor usage.

The Galleggiando Pavilion is meant to showcase a truly alternative employment of tiles and the metaphysical relations of sustainability and nature to this industry. It will act as a unique focal point in any exhibition or situation and I believe visitors will never look at a simple tile in the same way or understanding again.

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