Seville is famous for its ‘azulejos‘ – ceramic tiles, and has been for many centuries. The tradition is now celebrated in a new museum which opened last year in an old tile factory in Triana, the historic district across the river from the centre of the city which is so closely linked with this craft.
Triana used to be home to Seville‘s famous tile workshops and potteries – almost any tile you see in Seville‘s churches, hotels, bars and private houses, will have been made in Triana. The industry dates back to Roman times, using clay from La Cartuja, to the north of the area.
Çentro Ceramica Triana explores the tradition of ceramics and creates a rich inner urban landscape. The museum is an interesting juxtaposition of old and new. The old buildings are used to create a boundary for the elements of the new extension. Production ceased at the factory at the end of the 20th Century but many of its original features have been retained: firing kilns, a well, pigment mills and workshops that interlink the new spaces.
The museum is divided into distinct functions; an interactive visitor experience, a permanent exhibition area, a flexible temporary exhibition space and a museum shop. Part of the interactive learning experience involves an intricate journey amongst kilns and old factory spaces allowing visitors to experience how traditional ceramics were produced. In order to achieve this, archaeological elements such as smoke, bricks, wood and ash traces have been retained to add extra realism to the experience.
The permanent exhibition includes ceramics from different historical periods from Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque and nineteenth to twentieth century. There is also a section on the neighbourhood of Triana itself, famous for its flamenco artists and festivals, as well as it’s tile factories.
An old two storey building with brick walls emerges from the centre of the plot. This was originally where ceramic painters would work and is now a space for temporary exhibitions. Towards the edge there is an area which has been created as a tourist information centre for the area of Triana.
A suspended galvanized steel grid forms the façade for the new buildings that face onto the internal courtyard. 10,000 circular hollow ceramic sleeves of varying sizes are inserted into this grid. The primary function of which is to provide solar shade. The sleeves have been stacked closer together on the south-facing spaces. The façade is reminiscent of the ornamental window and front grille of andalusian architecture, not only providing sun shading but also maximising light ingress into the building without compromising privacy.
A cursory glance at the historical exterior of Çentro Ceramica Triana does not reveal any of the secrets hidden within its new makeover. The architects have done well in melding the new into the fabric of the old and succeeded in creating a memorable visitor experience.
Architect: AF6 Architects
Image: Jesús Granada