Bologna Water Design, Italy


The installation Pinnacle, grew out of Libeskind’s desire to celebrate the history and tradition of ceramic manufacturing in Italy’s Emilia Romagna region. The 8m-high sculpture, which sits in the 17th-century Courtyard of the Priory in the former Children’s Hospital of Bologna, the region’s capital, consists of two imposing facades made of metalized-porcelain ceramic panels. The facades converge to form a pinnacle that serves as a gate to the former hospital complex.

The sculpture is a collaboration with the well-known Italian floor and cladding tile manufacturer Casalgrande Padana, while the joint project began at the CityLife construction site, where the Emilia-based company supplied 50,000 m2 of ceramic material designed and made specifically for this project and applied according to specific constriction principles. The work required a number of technical solutions that could meet very high safety performance standards.

“Pinnacle”, created for the 2013 Water Design of Bologna festival, the work pays tribute to the radical verticality of medieval Bologna, still visible in its famous towers and oldest buildings. Boldly reaching towards the sky, the work is a counterpoint to the Ospedale’s more earthbound neoclassical facades and an allusion to Bologna’s tradition of linking the ancient to the contemporary.

The stoneware panels forming the sculpture’s cladding are part of a series Libeskind has designed for Casalgrande Padana. The lively three-dimensional patterns represent an expressive new visual language for glazed stoneware facades that takes advantage of the company’s innovative and sustainable technology: Bios Self Cleaning ceramics, allowing the slabs to be self-cleaning and reduce environmental pollution by purifying the air. The resulting product recalls the ancient tradition of Italian ceramics at the same time as it embraces the exigencies of building in the 21st century.