In 2018, Now in its 25th year, the Ceramics of Italy Tile Competition’s Residential award went to Ziger/Snead Architects for the Baltimore Slate House in Baltimore, Maryland. This striking design featured tiles by Imola Ceramica, supplied by distributor Conestoga Tile and installed by Custom Concepts by Greenwalt using setting materials from Mapei.
Situated on three acres and surrounded by Maryland Environmental Trust land, the Slate House is a contemporary retreat that respects the nature and legacy of the vast and densely wooded site. The new 7,000 sq. foot building replaced a ranch-style house from the late 1960s that was destroyed by fire.
The house fire created a physical, emotional, and ecological shift between owners, land, and the surrounding ecology. Rising from the ashes of its predecessor, the design team set out to reconnect the site to the existing contextual environment. As part of this process, the home and gardens are designed as a metaphor for healing, reflection, and relaxation.
The design employs an archetypal gable form, a geometric extrusion that is both reductive and minimal, that yields cathedral ceilings emphasising the verticality of the trees. Dark slate shingles wrap the sides and roof as a protective shell; while charred wood cladding to the gable ends evokes memories of the former home. Both materials contrast with the open, light-filled volumes of the interior. Large expanses of mahogany framed window walls maximize views of the surrounding forest, blurring interior and exterior spaces. Clean and direct geometries combine with natural materials of stone, wood, steel, and water to express rawness and simplicity.
Tiles from Imola Ceramica’s Concrete Project were specified for all of the floors, with Mapei products used during the installation. Concrete Project was chosen due to the seamlessly transitional ability to use same product inside and outside, and thus support the architectural vision of blurring the interior and exterior spaces. It also offered the large formats required for the design of this private home.
A Residential Honorable Mention was awarded to DI Group for its project at Norwich in West Hollywood, California. This featured tiles from Refin sourced from DI Group and installed by Darmont Construction Corporation.
The Norwich project is a contemporary family home featuring open communal spaces that are ideal for entertaining and family life. With expansive windows delivering ample natural light throughout the space, light colorued neutral tiles were used to reflect the light and translate the openness of the interior across the flooring. Three tile collections from Refin (District, Larix and Barrique) were used internally and externally.
A new post by Joe Simpson, Diary of a Tile Addict, September 2018.