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I used to be a tile!

A small warehouse in Spain has been given a beautiful and practical upgrade. Tiles from the building’s roof were reused as though they were bricks, to create walls with a unique character.

The architect, Arturo Franco, used the tiles to create load-bearing interior walls to the warehouse, a small building in Madrid’s old slaughterhouse district.

Run-down and out of use, it seemed that the warehouse would need to be torn down. However, the architect decided that the roofing tiles could serve a new purpose. He experimented with restacking them. The challenge was to stack and bond them in such a way that they could be used to create load-bearing walls.

The solution is visible in the close-up pictures. Lattice work of flat tiles are set into place with a cement mortar. As they are constructed in layers, they form hollow bricks. This helps to improve acoustics in the room.

In various places, lines of tiles have been left out, creating see-through holes in the walls. Besides light and vision, these also provide cooling ventilation. By making sure that heat is dispersed throughout the structure, thermal load is reduced. This means less energy is needed to keep the building at the right temperature.

This ceramic intervention changes the shape and the interior of the building. As we reported on recently power of repetition, scaling up a simple idea can have a powerful visual effect. In this case, the reused tiling has many other advantages too. This goes to show how beauty and brains can be effectively combined.

More from the architect on his website. Photos by Carlos Fernandez-Piñar.


  1. Edo van Doorne says:

    Lately I am working on an idea for a wall or room deviding object, consisting out of waste cardboard cylinders. One practical hurdle I have not yet tackled, is how to keep all those little surfases free from dust in day-to-day use. It seems like in case of the tiles the same “problem” occures. I am wondering if there are any thoughts/solutions on this matter.


    Edo van Doorne