Hi-Tech Tile Points to Spain’s Bright Future
Five cylindrical buildings clad in colorful ceramic tile comprise the Children’s Education and Innovation Center, located in the heart of the Technology Park of Paterna in Valencia, Spain. The park contains over 450 companies that all together employ nearly 8,000 people. As these numbers continue to rise, so does the need for easily accessible day care.
The Foundation for Innovation in Childhood of Valencian Community, an organization formed by companies headquartered in the park, commissioned Foursquare Arquitectos to design a children’s center promoting creativity, educational innovation and socialization. Last but not least they tasked the architects with integrating sustainable technology. Lead architect Ana Garcia Sala teamed with M2 Distribución and Natucer of Tile of Spain to bring the $5.5-million project to fruition.
The curved edges on the buildings’ exteriors and interiors were inspired by observing children at play. “The rounded shapes lack sharp edges, promoting a comfortable, social environment for the children,” says Sala. “This allows even the youngest to lean along the walls without fear.”
Tile manufacturer Natucer used new technology in glazing to achieve the curved facades. The tiles went through a single-fire baking process at 1195ºC (2183°F) in order to obtain the necessary width of 5.3 inches and bowing radius of 33.5 inches. They were then stapled to a metal substructure of slotted tracks covering panels of aluminum and mineral wool.
While the school of colorful buildings makes a strong visual statement about forward-thinking education, the center’s carbon footprint is minimal thanks to geothermal energy, exterior solar panels, and resin-treated floors that help to regulate temperature.