When designing the Jerwood Gallery, we knew that the material we chose to clad it needed to be very carefully chosen. We wanted something that had a sense of permanence and solidity, as well as being impervious to the worst that the British seaside weather and wind could throw at it. We also wanted it to be a single material covering the whole building, but not to feel uniform or monolithic. It needed to feel alive.
We developed the idea of a ceramic cladding through both technological and aesthetic influences. We were interested by the traditional mathematical tiles in Sussex – including on a building opposite the site – which appear to be bricks, but are in fact tiles hungon wooden battens, a way of cheaply updating the look of timber framed buildings when brick came into fashion. For whatever reason – perhaps durability – these tiles were frequently finished with a glaze that, while black in colour, shimmers in the light when viewed from different angles. We were interested in the oily, shimmering effects of these tiles and wondered if we could achieve something similar with contemporary technology and techniques.