Specifically developed shades and made-to-measure facade ceramics of AGROB BUCHTAL lend the new Finchley Memorial Hospital at London a unique flair. The high architectural quality of the hospital is not only reflected in its subtle design but also confirmed by the top mark “Excellent” in a BREEAM certificate of sustainability.

The new Finchley Memorial Hospital is situated in the middle of a residential area in the north of London. With the goal of integrating the three-storey new building with a surface of approxmiately 10,000 square metres, the Murphy Philipps Architects office developed a colour concept in co-operation with the colour designer Frances Tobin which provides clearly defined transitions from the exterior towards the interior areas.


The products of AGROB BUCHTAL chosen by the architects for the building shell are an integral part of this colour concept: a facade cladding consisting of approximately 3,500 ceramic panels as well as a total of 2,000 ceramic rectangular tubes vertically arranged in front of the curved glass facades of the access areas. One special feature of the rectangular tubes with a length of almost 120 cm and a cross-section of 6 x 6 cm is the glaze on the four sides.

AGROB BUCHTAL specially developed the six shades exactly defined by the planners for this project and carried out extensive test series in this connection. Particular requirements had to be met: on one hand, these filigree three-dimensional ceramic elements had to have an absolutely uniform surface quality, and on the other hand, the colours had to correspond to those of the two-dimensional ceramic panels despite different manufacturing procedures.

The experience gathered over decades with regard to project-specific special productions came in very useful: made-to-measure solutions of this type are one of the company’s absolute strong points. This is also proved by the fact that meanwhile far more than 15,000 recipes for special colours are available in the in-house glaze laboratory.

This high individuality and the care down to the last detail are to be found at all levels of the project: apart from the pixel-like colourfulness, the variety of the only 15 cm high formats is also characteristic of the facade panels, which – thanks to the modern fastening system KeraTwin K20 – could be installed quickly and visually discreetly by means of invisible clamps. Thus, the different lengths of between 63 and 120 cm, the six glaze colours and the diverse mitre cuts at the building corners result in a total of 84 article variants, which were precisely produced and cut at the BUCHTAL factory at Schwarzenfeld/Bavaria.

A particularity in this context is the HT coating of AGROB BUCHTAL. This innovation is durably baked onto the glaze in-plant and permits special characteristics: rain water forms a thin film which infiltrates the dirt and leads to a self-washing effect. Every shower cleans the facade free of charge and environment-friendly. In addition, HT has an antibacterial effect, so that the formation of algae or moss on facades can be efficiently prevented without using chemical products. Last but not least, HT decomposes the exhaust fumes produced by industry and cars similar to a forest with deciduous trees. Thus, the coating saves time and money, contributes to environmental protection and ensures a perfect look in the long term.


Dutch architect Maurice Nio designed the Novoperedelkino Metro Station in Moscow using tiles from the ChromaPlural range from Agrob Buchtal. Agrob Buchtal’s ChromaPlural tiles system aims to offer the best of both worlds: freedom and structure, with a large selection of colors and tile sizes, integrated in a comprehensive logic of modular dimensions and a harmonious color programme.

The ChromaPlural collection easily accommodates a huge variety of desires, with tiles in 50 colors and 29 sizes, which enables almost one and a half thousand different combinations. The sizes are arranged in two different systems, one based on multiples of 12.5 centimetres, the other one being decimal. The sizes range from 1 x 1 cm to 50 x 100 cm. Like these huge tiles, there are several sizes that are common multiples, fitting both the octametric and decimal system.

Moreover, the tiles are available in different materials and finishes: glazed or unglazed, earthenware, stoneware or porcelain stoneware. The number of possible patterns of different sizes & combinations of colors, materials and finishes runs therefore into the millions. Which is a lot, yet at the same time it isn’t infinite.

Like in almost all of Maurice Nio’s work, color plays an important role for Nio. We asked him 3 questions about this project: 

Q: Can you say something about the atmosphere you want to achieve in your new Moscow metro station?

Maurice Nio:
When you enter the Novoperedelkino metro station, you go from dark to light, from the below-street underpass to the platform area. A gradient of ten shades of black, grey and white tiles guides the public downwards. The lighting is designed according to this scheme: up-lighting toward the white ceilings and down-lightning toward the white platform. There is also extra functional lighting on the walls to guide the public up and down.

Q: Your projects always have a narrative. What is it in this particular case?

Maurice Nio:
Behind a dark cloud there is always a glimmer of light. That is the concept of this project. The design for the Novoperedelkino metro station is about hope. And about forgiveness, of course. If you were cynical, you could say that this theme, this thought, could be applied to all metro stations in Moscow, but that is not true. Especially in this unforgiving neighbourhood, the theme is entirely in place. This generic neighbourhood must be inspired. By someone other than an angel?

Q: How was it to work with ChromaPlural for this project?

Maurice Nio:
For our design for the Novoperedelkino metro station, we used the ten shades of the “Neutral” grey color range. With these ten shades, we can perfectly express the idea of descending to a bright space deep underground. In order to optimise the gradient effect, we used a small tile (10×10 cm). The design of the Novoperedelkino metro station is very “quiet”, but with the same new color code, you can also achieve a “loud” design.

Agrob Buchtal is capable of fulfilling nearly every conceivable order, even outside ChromaPlural (the company’s philosophy is the opposite of “any color as long as it is black”; it is more like “every color, including black”). The main reason is that from a design perspective, unlimited choice isn’t necessarily always preferable to limitations.

Everyday architecture has little to do with large architectural competitions, monumental iconic landmarks and ostentatious construction projects. Everyday architecture prevails most of the time. It is anonymous and difficult to define yet extremely specific. This type of architecture is usually overlooked but remains indispensable in our lives. In times when politicians even in the relatively rich Scandinavian countries are preoccupied with attenuating the effects of the economic crisis, it is all the more important to concentrate on having a good life. In an abstract sense, this is about designing our lives in such a way that we are healthy and safe, whereby retention and further development of the welfare model plays a key role. Realising these values in the built environment can look back on a long tradition. In fact, focussing on everyday architecture is an essential component of state architectural policy in Norway and Denmark.

And Agrob Buchtal is involved in several projects which represent typical everyday architecture. In Örnsköldsvik on the Gulf of Bothnia in northern Sweden, architect Gert Wingårdh has developed a soaring residential complex in the town. Wingårdh is regarded as one of the most interesting architects Sweden has to offer, arranging a playful building with “birdhouses” on the outside and windows facing in three directions on top of the old town hall, originally a rough concrete block. The facade features bright green, red, yellow and white KeraTwin® tiles mounted on a metal substructure. The colour range is inspired by the Swedish expressionist painter Bengt Lindström of international renown. The “birdhouses” project at various lengths from the main building and create a shadow effect similar to the reliefs in Lindström’s paintings. The sculptural and dramatic residential complex in the otherwise low-rise architecture on the Gulf of Bothnia is a colourful example of everyday architecture.


Zak World of Facades, South East Asia edition was held at the Marina Bay Sands Singapore on the 16th of November 2017 with more than 300 people in attendance.

The first segment of the conference focused on digitalization, cloud technology, robotics, drones and latest technological advancements as an enhancement to the façade industry .

Fire safety aspects of façades focusing on cladding and fire-stop solutions was also presented in the wake of ACP( Aluminum Composite Panels) fires in London and Singapore. Structural glass applications and high-performance coatings were also few of the key topics being discussed.

The summit agenda also put forth topics highlighting the latest opportunities, challenges, and limitations in the field of façade design and engineering while sharing a pragmatic approach.

During the conference, Gerhard Plank (Technical Advisor), from Agrob Buchtal, an expert in Mechanical Fixing systems with more than 40 years of experience in ceramic facades spoke about the sustainable features of Agrob Buchtal’s self washing facades, the flexible and rapid installation systems available leading to increased productivity and how with the new colors and designs allows for endless design possibilities


Being one of the Associate Partners, ABK also had the opportunity to showcase our different fixing systems and HT coated ceramic facades that comes in unique surface finishes, colours and sizes.

You may click on the links below to download our various catalogues and brochures that would help you in your project planning.

Downloads: Catalogues & Brochures

  1. Facade Systems Catalogue
  2. Ceramic Facade Systems – New Products 2017
  3. Light Works – HT Coating (Facades)

We would like to thank all of you who had visited our booth. It was a pleasure meeting you.


ABK is proud to be one of the Associate Partners of upcoming Zak World of Facades conference, an international conference series on façade design & engineering. A platform where ideas, innovation, experiences and knowledge will be shared and gained. 

Our speaker, Gerhard Plank, a Technical Advisor from Agrob Buchtal, is an expert in Mechanical Fixing systems for ceramic facades. 

With more than 30 years of experience in the industry, he will be presenting on the topic: Ceramic Facades – Cladding for the Future. 

Some of the things he will be talking about includes:

  • Self Washing Functional Facade with Endless Design Possibilities
  • Flexible and Rapid Installation leading to Increased Productivity
  • Sustainable & Environmentally Compatibility

If you are interested to attend this conference, please visit the website www.facades.sg to register today.