zaha hadid architects: twirl for lea ceramiche
zaha hadid architects: twirl for lea ceramiche zaha hadid architects: twirl for lea ceramiche
mar 11, 2011

zaha hadid architects: twirl for lea ceramiche

‘twirl’ by zaha hadid for lea ceramiche in milan, italy
all images courtesy zaha hadid architects and interni mutant architecture


pritzker prize-winning architect zaha hadid has designed ‘twirl’, an installation created for interni magazine‘s mutant architecture & design event during this year’s milan design week (11-17 april, 2011). a contemporary study on courtyard architecture, the design utilizes a series of ultraslim slabs by italian ceramic manufacturer lea ceramiche to fabricate a vortex-like three-dimensional structure in the 16th-century setting of milan’s state university.

rendering of courtyard


covering an area of 800 m2, the site is bound on all sides by two-storey columns and an elevated exterior walkway. the varying planar ceramic sheets, a product called ‘slimtech’, are arranged to transform the rigid geometries of the courtyard into a fluid and dynamic spatial construct. drawing from the natural contours of the plot, the installation emphasizes its arches and curve to distort its sense of space.

layout of panels

the system of panels fluctuate in height, reaching a verticality of up to 2 meters at its apex. seven different shades of colour ranging from milky white to coffee black give the installation a constantly-changing appearance, taking advantage of the transforming daylight and the curvature of the design. ‘twirl’ encourages the viewer to engage the space by exploring and observing the courtyard from multiple vantage points. at night, a series of fluorescent tubes produced by artemide highlights the spiral movement, spreading from the centre to the edges of the site and in turn lighting the existing architecture of the setting.

pixelated tiles

rendered view of night

application of different shades

initial studies of vortex form

effects of flourescent light

plan view

floor plan / stage 1

floor plan / stage 2

floor plan / stage 3

floor plan / stage 4

colour study

sectional detail

  • The color is a new thing for Zaha and, even though its application seems sort of simple, I think the finished result would be great.

    jpop says:
  • OMG, this is so beautiful. Its just stunning and such eye to detail. Very intricate and yet it flows so well.

    hampers says:
  • not so good.

    LML says:
  • what the? “structural sticks supporting”?

    silicon m says:

have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

comments policy
designboom's comment policy guidelines
generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

- please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
- please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
- please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
- please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
- please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
(there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
the best 100-200 entries too.)

a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

architecture news

keep up with our daily and weekly stories
502,384 subscribers
- see sample
- see sample