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Heath Ceramics Retail and Manufacturing
The objective of this project was to design a retail showroom and manufacturing facility to sell ceramic
strengths and weaknesses in tensile/compressive force retention, aesthetics, weight, and proportions. Notable
importance was devoted to creating dramatic light-value shifts in the interiors through several external
products using only concrete and metal for each building, respectively. The material limitations became an intensive exercise to help study the characteristic differences between conventional materials, including their
openings that respond most naturally to the materialâ€™s tendencies. The design was produced in two halves throughout the studio term, with the retail showroom preceding the manufacturing facility.
Heath Ceramics fires their pottery and tiles in large kilns, and this inspired the showroom’s foundational design concepts, such as form and function, to be rooted in the kilns of antiquity. The kiln’s tapered form was adapted orthogonally into a box with a skylight. Furthermore, spatial volumes were subtracted to correspond with entrances and exits in response to the site. The interior of the showroom is alike the condition inside a kiln, sharing the characteristic of darkness. The showroom’s skylight casts dramatic light-value contrasts across the interior of the space, and areas of light correspond to areas that are more frequented with circulation. The visitor’s experience of the space remains dynamic, with widespread levels of light and shadow throughout.
The second half of the design served to complement the function and form of the concrete showroom, while creating a structure that adapted these same design concepts for a new material, metal. The primary function of the manufacturing facility is to make ceramic products but also to showcase the process of making them. Because of this, Heath Ceramics products arenâ€™t the only things put on display, but the building itself is too. The foundations of the two halves connect so that visitors can move seamlessly between buying products from the showroom, and learning how they â€™re made in the manufacturing facility. This dichotomous relationship is important because it represents the dependence between a finished product and its process of development.