Bespoke terracotta project takes flight with international design award win

Aliva UK is celebrating after winning a prestigious international design award win for its stunning facade on Elm House, Brighton.

Aliva scooped the 2023 FX Design Award for a first-of-its kind terracotta facade at Brighton University’s School of Business and Law in the best product surfaces category.


The renowned awards held in Park Lane, London, celebrate world-class design excellence, products, materials and finishes, with over 25 expert judges to impress.

The project was also shortlisted for the best Public Sector Project and in the UK Project of the Year category for the stunning aesthetic of Elm House, which has pushed the convention for facade design customisation.

The bespoke 3D white terracotta tiled ceramic veil cladding takes its architectural inspiration from murmurations of starlings that take flight over the iconic Brighton Pier.

It was also custom-designed to reference the architect Hassell’s design intention, to visually relay the historic mathematical tiles of Brighton and the state of change that students experience whilst at university.

A custom ceramic veil frame wraps around the building from the second level to support 3,120sqm of the bespoke terracotta tiles that were manufactured and supplied by Aliva.

Six different types of white, handmade, geometric glazed tiles in matt, gloss and semi-gloss finishes were used to create the stunning aesthetic. The building features 50,000 tiles in total made out of 100% clay, they provide both an organic and sustainable surface solution.

The new six-storey educational building forms the centrepiece of a major redevelopment project taking place across Brighton University’s Moulsecoomb campus, providing a stunning new front door to the campus.

James Ormerod, Managing Director of Aliva UK, said:This prestigious international award represents design industry recognition for our bespoke terracotta cladding that has created a visually breath-taking finish that also conveys a connection to the murmuration of starlings massing over the iconic Brighton Pier.

Commissioned by global architects Hassell’s London studio, Aliva UK worked in partnership to develop the tailormade system, with a bespoke structure that could also satisfy the technical requirements demanded by the building.

Julian Gitsham, Principal and Education & Science Sector Leader at architects Hassell, said:This FX award win reflects a genuinely transformational design project and the result of a collaborative team effort. From concept to manufacture and delivery, Elm House represents our vision for a well-crafted, meaningful and environmentally responsive cladding.

Gilbert-Ash Managing Director, Ray Hutchinson, said: 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 facade, 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.

The 2023 FX accolade marks the 2nd award for the Elm House project, having received a Facade Awards UK trophy in the best use of a rainscreen system using glass or ceramics category in 2022.