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Why Has Terracotta Dominated Across Centuries?

Starting with the Babylonian temples, structures, palaces and still finding their use in contemporary architecture, terracotta panels have been distinguished for their durability, sustainability, design flexibility, and natural textures and colors. Terracotta structures have withstood years of wear and tear. They will probably stand for hundreds more, and their versatility will keep them in the good books of architects and civil engineers for eternity.

The breakthrough of architectural terracotta:

The modern applications of terracotta as an architectural element and a high-utility cladding material came to be known with the large-scale projects that Renzo Piano was implementing all across Europe. In Berlin, the Potsdamer Square, completed in 1997, was one such wondrous project that manifested a curved terracotta facade. Such breakthrough projects demonstrated the adaptability and geometrical possibilities galore that architectural terracotta contains.

Terracotta has become a darling for architects and civil engineers like it has always been with artisans and sculptors. Its massive popularity in the construction industry is primarily due to its plethora of rich properties.

●          Performance:

The basic mixture of clay and water without any chemical additive makes terracotta invariably robust, long-lasting, and eco-friendly. The following properties reinforce the performance of terracotta panels as suitable building materials.

  • Life cycle: Terracotta products, when used as cladding materials for buildings and other structures, have lasted more than 100 years without maintenance. Though cement facades start losing color and structural integrity, terracotta lasts for decades. Being the ideal product for sustainable buildings, it is long-lasting, does not impact the environment, and can be recycled and used for other construction methods.
  • Thermal stability: Terracotta panels and slabs, when made into rainscreens provide superb thermal performance and improve the energy efficiency and utilization for structures.
  • Maintenance: Though glazed terracotta can survive without care for more than a couple of decades, ordinary terracotta requires minimal maintenance (like a power wash) for more than a decade of its lifespan.

●          Terracotta aesthetics:

Though terracotta is widely known for its red color, the probability of achieving pigments of various tinges and hues is practically endless with terracotta. From light cream to dark grey, you can almost achieve any color. The integration of glazes and pigments makes colors like black, red, green, yellow, purple, and others possible.

  • Unglazed: You can mix different types of clay and achieve a multitude of colors for unglazed terracotta. Firing up pigments and oxides at incredibly high temperatures can help you obtain vibrant hues and typically radiant vivid colorations.
  • Glazed: Glazed terracotta panels have a primary white or off-white raw glaze, and then other colored glazes are applied just before the firing procedure starts. Glazes enable you to achieve an endless library of hues and shades on terracotta and even various opacities and finishes.
  • Shapes: Using terracotta for making only slabs is now passé. You can use terracotta to create flexible geometric and 3D shapes for use in facades.
  • Textured: Textured terracotta variants are some of the oft-preferred panels in contemporary architecture. The intricacies of the texture make terracotta slabs a highly desired element in building construction.

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