Dezeen Magazine

SHoP creates immersive terracotta enclosure as a space to pause and reflect

Over 1,500 terracotta blocks were intricately carved and stacked to create this installation in Milan, which SHoP architects hoped would provide visitors with a moment of solace.

The Wave/Cave installation was designed by the New York-based firm for Interni Magazine's Material Immaterial exhibition, which took place as part of this year's Milan design week.

Made up of an assemblage of 1,670 terracotta blocks, the installation stands at 10 metres high at its tallest point. Each block has been individually carved, and while they appear plain on the outside – the inside of the installation reveals an intricate pattern.


At night, the installation softly glows from its centre, with light illuminating the gaps in the blocks.

SHoP principle William Sharples said the installation was a reaction to current architectural industry practices, and he hopes that it will bring visitors a moment of peace and calmness.

"Focusing on this idea of solidity and slow time is a reaction to what has happened to a lot of architecture over the past few years," said Sharples. "Wave/Cave asks us to slow down and get back in touch with the weight and pace of architecture from other eras."


"The experience of Wave/Cave is conceived as a deliberate counterpoint to the internal agitation and disrupted attention spans encouraged by contemporary media and technology."

The installation was conceived in collaboration with German firm NBK Keramik, and each block was finished using a customised process that generated 797 individual profiles from a single extrusion.

SHoP was keen to combine a traditional material with a modern process in order to show potential uses.


"We've always been interested in working with traditional materials," said Christopher Sharples, principal at SHoP. "Today's technologies allow us to draw out their material authenticity in new ways."

SHoP's Wave/Cave was exhibited at Interni Magazine's Material Immaterial show, which brought together a series of experimental and interactive installations during Milan design week from 3 to 9 April.

Outside of Milan, the firm is working on projects across the US, from Uber's headquarters in San Francisco to a supertall tower in Brooklyn. It also currently holds claim to the world's tallest modular high-rise, and proposed New York's tallest timber-framed building – a proposal that was axed last month.