Aliva UK wins industry renowned façade award for pioneering project

Aliva is celebrating after scooping an industry renowned prize with a truly bespoke terracotta project – Elm House at the University of Brighton – in this year’s Façade Awards UK.

The first of its kind in façade design, Aliva custom-designed a bespoke white terracotta tiled ceramic veil façade which takes its inspiration from starling murmurations over Brighton’s iconic pier.

Six different types of white, handmade, geometric glazed tiles in matt, gloss and semi-gloss finishes were used to create the stunning aesthetic.

Commissioned by architects Hassell, Aliva developed a tailormade system with a bespoke structure which could satisfy the technical requirements demanded by the building, with a façade design which pays homage to the character of the area.

Aliva beat off strong competition to win the award with leading construction and fit out company Gilbert-Ash in the ‘Best use of a rainscreen system using glass or ceramics’ category, for its work on Elm House, the University of Brighton’s landmark new home for its School of Business and Law.

The award recognises excellence in façade design and promotes collaboration between product manufacturers and contractors. A custom ceramic veil frame wraps around the building from the second level to support 3,120sqm of the bespoke tiles manufactured and supplied by Aliva.

The judges said:

“The choice of 100% clay is eco-friendly and can be easily recycled. A great benefit offered by the aluminium support structure of the designed and supplied system. The project shows a very good use of materials and looks tremendous.”

Project Manager for University of Brighton/Fulkers Bailey Russell, Neil Heard-White, said:

Elm House is the centrepiece of our transformed Moulsecoomb campus. It’s a stunning addition to the local cityscape and an important focal point for our students, staff, and visitors. As the flagship building on the campus, we needed it to deliver both functionally and aesthetically, and the bespoke façade developed by Aliva does just that.


We’re delighted with the finished building and that Aliva, Hassell Studio and Gilbert Ash have been recognised for their efforts with this award.”

Aliva UK Managing Director, James Ormerod, said:

“We are thrilled to receive this prestigious national award. Innovation sits at the heart of our projects and creating this completely bespoke solution, which has never been developed before, has been thoroughly exciting and required exploring a host of traditional and new techniques.


“This is a landmark project for Brighton, providing a stunning new front door to the campus with a breath-taking effect. We hope to see buildings across the country embrace the pioneering types of terracotta systems we can deliver.”

Julian Gitsham, Principal and Education & Science Sector Leader, at Hassell said:

“We are delighted to have won this award for such a transformational project at the university campus in Brighton – the project was the result of a collaborative team effort.


From concept to manufacture and delivery, Brighton Business School represents our vision for a well-crafted, meaningful and environmentally responsive façade that references both the historic mathematical tiles of Brighton along with the murmurations of the starlings over Brighton pier, creating a wonderful narrative of the state of change that students experience whilst at university.


The crafting and technical skill that Aliva demonstrated throughout the project led to an outstanding quality product and final result.”

Gilbert-Ash Managing Director, Ray Hutchinson, said:

“We are proud to see the façade design on this project win at the prestigious Façade Awards UK 2022. Inspired by the murmuration of starlings over the iconic Brighton Pier, installing the façade was a highly complex project, full of challenging details and techniques. Gilbert-Ash rose to the occasion, completing it on time and to the highest standards against a backdrop of the pandemic and supply pressures.


“The team on this project worked in a highly collaborative manner with the design team and our specialist supply chain partners to deliver a one-of-a-kind building façade, fitting for a school steeped in over 175 years of history and academic excellence. This contemporary building, which is designed to replicate industry and professional environments, will help keep the University on a competitive level both nationally and internationally for years to come and give flight to the careers of the students who study there.”