We were excited to be included for this most unusual development constructed in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – for the Saudi Press Agency. The structure is one component of a new headquarter building. It is an auditorium with a capacity for over 220 people formed as a giant concrete ball (twenty-seven metres in diameter). Craig Bragdy was asked to design, manufacture and install bespoke ceramics for the exterior. To replicate the world. The Globe. A challenge indeed!
Landmasses were bespoke handmade ceramics, the oceans mosaic. For manufacture, the first step was to construct a ‘former’ replicating the curvature of the globe to ensure the ‘fit’, the ‘shape’ and the adhesion of the tiles. The ‘former’ was to be large enough for the biggest continent – Africa, Tunis to Cape Town – 12,000 km in life, 18 metres in wet clay!
All rivers, valleys, mountain ranges and coastlines were plotted accurately and sculpted on to the surface of the clay by hand. After the first firing, all individually mixed colours were applied and fired again. Once through this process of all colours are permanent. They will not fade nor change in any way. Not in sunlight nor in rain (nor even frost) – they are vitrified and they are permanent.
The project was both challenging and rewarding, its manufacture taking place in Wales over an intense twelve-week programme and installed using local labour and Craig Bragdy supervision.