A Historic Building With a 3D-Printed Ceramic Facade in Amsterdam

05.13.24 | By
A Historic Building With a 3D-Printed Ceramic Facade in Amsterdam

Rotterdam-based design firm Studio RAP designed a bespoke facade in Amsterdam called the Ceramic House. This project showcases the seamless integration of tradition and innovation through the use 3D-printed ceramic technology. By utilizing custom algorithms and 3D-printed ceramic tiles, Studio RAP transformed a boutique facade into a mesmerizing display of texture, form, and craftsmanship. The design blends with its historic surroundings while exuding a contemporary flair that captivates anyone passing by.

Detailed facade of a building showing windows with unique sculptural brick frames under a cloudy sky.

By leveraging advanced digital fabrication processes, Studio RAP has crafted each ceramic tile in its own shop, infusing intricate details reminiscent of knitted textiles. Inspired by the art of knitting clothing, the design features deep creases, interlooping yarns, and stitch patterns that evolve and transform as one moves in front of the structure.

Facade of three adjacent european townhouses with traditional architecture, featuring ground floor shops and upper residential stories, on a sunny day with a clear sky.

The facade not only pays homage to Amsterdam’s rich architectural heritage but also sets a new standard for contemporary design. From afar, the Ceramic House appears as a harmonious extension of the historic street, maintaining the characteristic tripartite structure while offering a fresh perspective on traditional materials and forms.

Three-story brick building with retail shops on the ground floor, located on a tree-lined street with parked cars.

An ornately tiled storefront exterior with two large glass windows, located in a brick building on a city street.

The organic, undulating surface appears to morph as viewers look at the design from varying angles. Large ceramic tiles, glazed in pearl white by Royal Tichelaar with a soft lean towards yellow, greet visitors at street level, seamlessly transitioning as they reach the ground. Meanwhile, on the higher floors, 3D-printed bricks glazed in three shades of red create a captivating visual gradient that fades as they ascend, creating a sense of dynamism and movement.

Modern storefront with textured white and red exterior, clear glass doors, and a visible interior corridor, located between two different style buildings.

Red brick building facade with white framed windows, adorned with lush green ivy under a blue sky.

Looking up at a modern building with a shiny, reflective glass facade and detailed, decorative cornices under a clear sky.

Facade of a building with intricate sculptural details resembling draped fabric and cascading elements, under a clear blue sky.

Central to the project is Studio RAP’s pioneering use of 3D-printed ceramic tiles. Drawing inspiration from the vast ceramic collection housed in the Rijksmuseum, the firm has developed a distinctive process that allows for highly specific and intricately designed details. Working with advanced robotic systems, the studio’s architects have pushed the boundaries of what’s possible, creating a facade that is as visually stunning as it is technologically advanced.

Textured fabric panel beside a narrow vertical glass window on a building, under a clear, sunny sky.

Close-up of red terracotta roof tiles overlapping a brick wall, highlighting contrasting textures and colors.

Close-up of a textured wall with an elaborate pattern of overlapping orange ceramic tiles, creating a dynamic, wavy surface.

Close-up of tightly stacked orange fire hoses with silver connectors, arranged in a circular pattern on a rack.

Prior to installing each 3D-printed ceramic tile, a laser-cut stainless steel structure was attached to the building to hold each brick in place.

Close-up of a building corner showing contrasting textures: smooth white window frame, wavy metal siding, and orange textured tiles.

Angled view of metal steel form

down view of an array of 3D printed white and red ceramic bricks

Down angled view of a robotic machine 3D printing ceramic bricks

front view of a robotic machine 3D printing ceramic bricks

A worker examines ceramic molds stored on multiple shelves in a warehouse.

3d printed ceramic objects with intricate designs displayed in a workshop environment.

Photography by Riccardo De Vecchi for Studio RAP.

Caroline Williamson is Editor-in-Chief of Design Milk. She has a BFA in photography from SCAD and can usually be found searching for vintage wares, doing New York Times crossword puzzles in pen, or reworking playlists on Spotify.