3D clay printed ‘Delft Blue’ tiles

New Delft Blue, a project by Dutch architectural design company Studio RAP, reinterprets the world famous design of Delft Blue porcelain, fusing 3D clay printing, computational design and artisanal glazing.

The project takes its inspiration from traditional Delft Blue porcelain, the design of which changed drastically over the century from copying Chinese and Japanese Oriental design to contemporary Dutch design. What has remained the same, however, is a differentiation between a decorative and abstract frame and a picturesque scene.

New Delft Blue uses this division as its starting point. The large scale redevelopment Nieuw Delft has a lush communal courtyard of the PoortMeesters building block, which is framed by two large entry gates. These gates “refer to Delft as a medieval trading city with its many city gates and provide passers-by with a glimpse of the idyllic life going on inside.” This view functions as the picturesque scene of Delft Blue.

The decorative frame is represented by 3D printed clay tiles. The computational design allows for the calculation of certain manufacturing constrains, like maximum overhang, width, shrinkage and internal support structure. Using an algorithmic approach to 3D pattern design, the tiles vary in shape, which is also used in the artisanal glazing of the tiles. For instance, there is white runny glaze on the convex portions of the tiles, representing hills, and blue glaze pools in the concave (valley) areas.

The gates are four metres wide, eight metres high and twelve metres deep. They will be covered in approximately 4,000 ceramic tiles, which are currently being printed.

According to Studio Rap, the 3D printed ceramic tiles make for a high-quality cladding material, which offers low maintenance and high durability. The studio also uses this cladding for a residential high-rise project.

Client: BPD, Ballast Nedam Development
Architect New Delft Blue: Studio RAP
Architect PoortMeesters: VY Architects
3D ceramic printing: Studi RAP
Images: Studio RAP