Wednesday, 1 February 2012

In focus: Terrazzo

Most people have probably walked over terrazzo most weeks of their life and never even realised it. You might have thought that you were walking over limestone, or marble, or granite, or perhaps some other stone, but despite its natural look terrazzo is a man-made material, made of a mixture of natural and man-made components.
Terrazzo floors are made up of stone (and sometimes glass) chips in a cement-like matrix. To lay a terrazzo floor, the area is first marked out on the floor, then the mixture of chips and cement poured into the area. Once it has set, the floor surface is ground down to be flat and then polished, giving the terrazzo its characteristic sparkle and shine.
Terrazzo has many benefits over stone for interior designers. Because you can mix the chips of any stone or glass, you can lay a floor of almost any colour, and because it is poured you can fill any shape, sometimes large, unbroken areas where you would be unable to bring in such a large slab of actual stone. Modern terrazzo floor are also often quite thin, less than half an inch deep, which makes the terrazzo floor light enough to use on upper floors of buildings. Terrazzo is also perfect for creating pictures and designs on a floor, because it can be poured into any shape.

The foyer and crush hall as well as the front steps at the Regal have a cream and green terrazzo floor. Over the years this has suffered damage in some places, and will be repaired as part of the restoration project.

Pictures of the front steps and the foyer, showing the terrazzo floor.
In the crush hall (bottom picture) you can see the beading between the slabs.

Terrazzo can also be used to create artworks on the floor. The patterns at the Regal are typical of art deco floor decoration. Modern artists still create terrazzo floor designs today. The video below shows one such art project, in a City Hall in Washington state in America.

Work on the terrazzo floors in the Regal will be starting within the next few weeks. We'll bring you more on it as we have it!

We hope you enjoyed this in-focus look at one of the techniques being re-created in our restoration work. Look out for more in the future!

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