Orlando | Tampa


Interstruct’s pocket park tile installation at Coverings

Step into #AboveOrange by Interstruct, Inc. #AboveOrange was one of three vignettes to showcase tile at the Installation & Design Experience at Coverings 2019, the global tile and stone expo held in Orlando at the Orange County Convention Center in April.

Interstruct’s architecture team — Maria Valbuena, Carlo Hernandez and Nate Wallace — took on the challenge of envisioning an unconventional pocket park for a high-density urban space. Their design was brought to life with tile supplied by Crossville Inc. and installed by C.C. Owen Tile Company.

Interstruct architecture associates Carlo Hernandez, Nate Wallace and Maria Valbuena in their design, #AboveOrange

The architecture team meets the challenge of an experimental design.

Tasked by Interstruct CEO Ryan Young to take the design for a public pocket space to the next level, Valbuena’s idea was an experimental structure inspired by mountains that invites people to use it in different ways, whether to climb, sit, or just relax. The tile selection is durable and plays off a neutral base with bright pops of #InterstructOrange — the firm’s branded color.

“Maria came up with a unique concept that pushes the traditional parameters of this vignette,” says Young. “We are testing the limits of edges and transitions and how tile is typically used and installed.”

Rendering of #AboveOrange

How tile usage and selection takes a leading role in the design evolution.

The design team evaluated Crossville’s large selection of tile and considered different possibilities. An early concept leaned towards a color palette reflecting nature, to align with Valbuena’s mountain-inspiration for the vertical space.

But the team also had to consider safety concerns of the usage — people climbing a structure that might become slippery when wet. As in real life, the architects’ rendering evolved to meet the challenges. What began as an outdoor concept moved to an indoor or covered space, viewed as flexible seating in applications such as a food hall concept or a co-working space. The innovative urban space called for a different color palette and the team selected a pairing of Retro Active 2.0 from Color by Numbers, and Crossville Porcelain Tile Panels. (View a pdf of the Tile Selection.)

“We had wanted all matte finishes,” explains Valbuena, “but Crossville told us that the orange only came in glossy and at first we struggled with the idea.” It turned out to be a silver lining.

C.C. Owen Tile Company suggested a tile-on-tile layered approach to achieve the desired mosaic effect.

An innovative solution to achieve the desired outcome.

Valbuena initially envisioned the tiles to be cut and pieced as a mosaic. “After studying the plans, the installer suggested a layered approach by installing the orange tiles first with the cutouts in the white panels on top. I had no idea tile could be installed over tile,” says Valbuena. “I really like the effect of shadows and dimension from this layered approach.”

“This is something new the installer is doing and they wanted to showcase it with #AboveOrange,” adds Wallace. “You don’t typically meet an installation team who is open to trying something that poses a lot of challenges. Because of that, sometimes our projects come out a little different than we intended. But we could tell that this team took great care with every detail, as though they felt they were making art.” The entire Interstruct team agrees that #AboveOrange turned out exactly like the rendering.

A new installation approach using layered tile.

One expo attendee described #AboveOrange as a modern-take on the Roman Coliseum. “I’ve seen people meander over and try to figure it out,” says Wallace. “It’s a new experience for everyone. Some are bold enough to come in and try it out. It is a social space that doesn’t need an explanation.”

“The local community is growing in Orlando and needs more interesting designs,” says Interstruct architect Maria Valbuena. “We’re always trying to work on that. We love the local movement in town and we want to be part of it.”

#AboveOrange credits at Coverings 2019

Design by Interstruct, Inc.
Tile by Crossville Inc.
Installation by C.C. Owen Tile Company
Installation materials by Ardex Americas
Backerboard and trim by Schluter-Systems North America