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Tunnel Solutions Using Ceramic Tiles

Railway station with curtain type tile system  Curtain Type facade in railway tunnel


The classic 3” x 6” subway tile used on walls within railway stations and roadway tunnels in the early twentieth century has long since changed, with architectural design playing a significant role in defining the environment we see today.

A ceramic tile has long been considered only for decorative purposes.  However companies like Agrob Buchtal, German manufacture of ceramics for architecture, are taking tiles into new and diverse applications which mechanically improve the structure and reduce maintenance for roadway tunnels and railways stations. 

The development of engineered tile facades known as “Curtain-Type Ventilated facades” has been adopted world-wide by architects for its application in commercial buildings, providing both environmental and energy cost benefits. 

In more recent years Agrob Buchtal has utilised the same structure technology for underground railway and roadway applications.  The ventilated facade, so named because it creates an air space between the load-bearing walls, offers several unique advantages over ceramic cladding stuck directly onto a wall.  These include:

  • Reduced risk of cracking and separation from the wall
  • Light-weight
  • Easy to install
  • Ease of maintenance & cleaning


The redevelopment of “Marienplatz” underground train station in Munich, Germany utilised the curtain wall system by Agrob Buchtal for its light-weight (weighing 18kg/m2), economical installation and secure fixing on the rear – so it could withstand high-levels of vibration and wind resistance created in a railway tunnel environment.

For the development of the “Maurice Lemaire”, the longest single-tube road tunnel in France (length about 7km), Agrob Buchtal’s ceramic curtain-type system provided a protective incombustible and corrosive resistant tunnel lining.  It also created a cavity that enabled cables and pipes to pass through without being visible, but still accessible for maintenance through a built-in unlocking mechanism.   

Since the 2008 renovation of “Maurice Lemaire” tunnel with Agrob Buchtal’s curtain-type system, its estimated maintenance costs will drop by more than 50% by the year 2030, when compared to materials normally used in these cases (e.g. paint, steel panels, pvc). 

Facade building 

Video clip of Agrob tunnel system