Ceramic protects ceramic
Oct 7, 2015

From a 235-year-old stoneware plate via the Royal Porcelain Collection through to Art Nouveau tableware by Royal Copenhagen: the Clay Museum of Ceramic Art Denmark in Middelfart, on the Danish island of Fyn, houses the most comprehensive collection of ceramics in the country. In 2010, it was graced with the gift of a magnificent donation, and the collection, consequently now boasting 55,000 exhibits, started to present a challenge for the museum: the charming villa that had previously served as a museum had grown too small for its contents.

Located directly on the waterfront, the Grimmerhus villa was originally erected in 1857 as the retirement home for a widow. It has been extended by an adjoining wing providing an additional 1,500 square meters. Copenhagen architects Kjaer and Richter were quick to decide that the purist block should be given a facade that refers to the ceramic housed inside. They asked manufacturer Colt International if it could provide them with a custom-made solution. Subsequently, the international facade specialist delivered a metal system of blinds clad with rectangular ceramic slats of different sizes. This was installed in front of the primary facade to create a second skin.

Colt International used reddish brown ceramic panels for the blinds, which it had set in pivoting stainless steel frames. The specially developed “Soltronic III” regulating system ensures that, depending on the sun’s position, the blinds can pivot by up to 200 degrees, providing glare-free light inside, but also cooling the building. The heart of the system is the 230-volt induction motor which sets the ceramic blinds in motion using a torsion shaft – a sophisticated technique that is completely invisible behind the stainless steel sections. The result is impressive: thanks to the interplay of open and closed blinds regulated by ambient daylight the facade not only appears extremely dynamic, but also itself constitutes a ceramic artifact.

The new building of the Clay Museum of Ceramik Art Denmark in Middelfart, Denmark offers ample space for the comprehensive ceramic collection it houses. Photo © Thomas Mølvig

Two facades: In front of the transparent glass facade a flexible blind system by Colt International was installed as a shading system. Photo © Thomas Mølvig

A silhouette in motion: Depending on the light, the ceramic slats act like a fan and ensure glare-free vision for visitors inside. Photo © Thomas Mølvig

Natural material: Iridescent red and brown shades and a slightly varying texture lend the facade a lively surface texture. Photo © Thomas Mølvig

The slats are regulated using the “Soltronic III” system. Motors, gears, torsion shaft and cables are cleverly tucked out of sight into the stainless steel support sections. Photo © Thomas Mølvig

From inside: The slats can pivot up to 200 degrees. Photo © Thomas Mølvig