As a launching event for the academic year at Newcastle University, the entire Architecture school participates in ‘Charrette Week’, a short but fast-paced workshop week that aims to encourage creative thinking and introduce new ideas to students of all years. Going into the final year of my Architecture studies, I took part in the ‘Spectacular Terrazzo’ group, which focused on the process of making terrazzo tiles and exploring various techniques and modes of experimentation.
The first day of the week involved a presentation from the workshop leader, followed by a live demonstration of the tile-making process, highlighting the strict proportions of cement, aggregate and water needed to create the optimum material consistency. Each student then set about creating a mould from MDF pieces, where I decided to experiment with indentation, using a strip of polystyrene to create the desired effect.
For my tile, I chose to use a mixture of grey and black stones paired with shards of blue glass and a light blue cement pigment to tie the colour palette together. I also experimented with different tones of pigment when pouring subsequent layers of cement over the terrazzo mix, so that the tile indentation would be lighter in colour compared to the top surface.
After leaving the terrazzo mix to set overnight, the next stage involved carefully removing the tile from the MDF mould, and then gradually sanding down the top surface to reveal the aggregate pattern. Following several hours of sanding, I had finally reached a point where I was happy with the tile pattern, and so completed the process by rubbing wax into the top surface to create a more refined, finished aesthetic.