By: AllEyesMedia Ceramics This versatile material has not only firmly established itself in our everyday lives… … but has also proven to be extremely useful in many different areas,… … continuing to be as contemporary as ever before. It may take centre-stage or perhaps it works inconspicuously in the background, without us noticing it. Irrespective of where, how and when,… … ceramic materials have always been adapted to the current needs of mankind and been continuously improved. Today we are able to employ this valuable resource in more diverse and flexible ways than ever before. Let us take a closer look. The ingredients for ceramic materials are simple: Take the elements earth, water, air and fire. A recipe that has proven itself throughout the ages and which, thanks to its natural origins, is as modern today as it ever has been. Before it can be turned into actual ceramic,… … the earth has to be ground and mixed with other natural materials… … before being given the desired shape. This might take the form of refractories… … technical ceramics… … fine ceramics… … or heavy clay But this is only one among many ways of classifying the endless range of possible materials. After being shaped, the ceramic products are placed in a dryer… … to remove most of the moisture. The material is then inserted into a kiln. Where it is fired for several hours. After which it is ready for use. But what makes this simple building material so sophisticated and versatile? The answer is pretty simple: physics Clay Bricks are able to withstand the temperature fluctuations of their surroundings. Take cold, for example. On its way through the brick, it is constantly weakened. Just like heat. The secret lies not only in the large chambers,… … but also in the brick’s many fine pores and arteries that distort or help to retain the temperature. Furthermore, the brick is able to absorb moisture and release it back to the surrounding air as soon as humidity drops. This way the inside of a house stays dry and air-conditioned in the most natural of ways. Or take fire, for instance. Since the bricks have already been fired, they can withstand the flames of a fire for a long time. But these are only a few examples showing how versatile ceramic is. A house consists of so much more than just plain bricks: pipings ceiling blocks hollow bricks facing bricks roof tiles floor tiles clay pavers Nowadays, there are almost no limits as to the number of ceramic materials that can be produced. Here, you won’t find damp walls or high heating or air-conditioning bills. And, besides saving money you also help to protect the environment. The sustainable way these buildings have been constructed means they can survive for a long time… … creating a safe and comfortable home, even for your grandchildren. [speaks Dutch] Ceramics have been produced by mankind for thousands of years and they are still made using completely natural material. Today ceramic companies still create jobs in their vicinity,… … even though the production process has become more and more automated. This holds true not only in the Netherlands, but all around the world. And this is a great development because it preserves natural resources and doesn’t harm the environment. For instance, the residual heat from the kilns is transferred directly to the dryers, saving energy. Clay extraction is, compared to other building materials, quite challenging because in most countries,… … clay-mining companies are required to recultivate the mining areas. This means giving nature time to reclaim the area and to let animals find their way back into it. Wherever you look, you won’t find another construction material that is so durable and yet so gentle on the environment. Here at our independent institute in Arnhem-Velp, we are developing innovative products that meet the highest of standards. We check the composition of the clay. Its reaction to firing. To drying. To cold. And to heat. To water. And also whether the products can endure high forces. Through our tests, we have numerous ways of guaranteeing that our customers… … have a building material that is both 100% natural and safe. [speaks Italian] My name is Benedetta Tagliabue. I am an Italian who has lived in Barcelona for 22 years. I am a Barcelonese Italian. We do projects all over the world. In Spain. Edinburgh. The Netherlands. And Germany. We recently opened a branch in Shanghai where we began with the design of the Spanish Pavilion for the World Expo 2010. We love working with ceramic materials and bricks. So much so, that we have used them in almost all of our buildings. I believe they are a traditional material. Very beautiful, long-lasting, ecological and you can use them in many different ways. I think that Santa Caterina was a real breakthrough for the renewed acceptance of decorative ceramics by architects. We like to use bricks in public buildings. This is because, although it is a discrete material, when displayed in public buildings,… … it has proven to be so sophisticated that it has become an extremely representative element. I don’t know… I would like to find out more about heavy clay from a scientific point of view. We architects intuitively consider brick to be a warm material that we like to keep close to us. It is a natural material, with tradition, and an extremely beautiful one. It is also a material that makes building in cost-effective ways possible. It comes in many different shapes, covering a lot of surfaces, not just hidden behind the wall. It covers the floor, the walls, all kinds of surfaces. My name is Lode Waes, I am the company manager of Vanhaerents. We are a construction company and a property developer. We are currently involved in an 8-hectare building project at the military hospital in Antwerp,… … where we plan to construct a total of about 420 houses, apartments and lofts. It was important that the architect chose brick as a construction material,… … as this ensured homogeneity between the old and the new buildings. Brick is a very good product in terms of sustainability. The nicest example being when we hear the noise of cleaning, the cleaning of the bricks,… … because we reuse old bricks from 200 years ago. We can see, in all the projects we are involved in, that – even for modern projects… … more and more architects are choosing clay products, which we are very fond of. In some of our recent projects, we have worked almost entirely with clay products. We have now also started using clay pavers, as well as clay bricks, roof tiles and clay inner walls. Just like those used in old buildings we also use inner wall blocks to reinforce the separation between two houses… … because of the acoustic properties of the material, its good insulation qualities and the fact that it is chemically inert. This project is a nice example of a mixture of social housing, affordable accommodation and upmarket homes. The bricks act as an equalizer, so bricks can be used as a building material for different classes in society. As a result, you can hardly see the difference between social housing,… … an upmarket home… … or affordable accommodation… … here in the project based at the military hospital in Antwerp. For thousands of years ceramic products have helped us to improve our lives. No matter where you are in this world or how you live. We help people to pursue this path… … and to use this valuable material to provide sustainable answers to some of the most pressing questions of our time.