Architecture Research Office (ARO), collaborated with Heintges Consulting Architects & Engineers, and the fabricator TriPyramid, to explore exterior envelope applications of ceramics. This exploration builds upon ARO’s design approach to enrich daily life by elevating simple materials through scale, pattern, and texture, and activating their properties through fabrication, light, view, and sound. Heintges specializes in the design and implementation of high-performing facades and is currently working with ARO on the Green-Wood Cemetery Education Center. TriPyramid is a premier designer and manufacturer of custom architectural hardware.
The design team developed a curtainlike terra cotta brise soleil supported on struts spanning a double-layer tension net structure. We take inspiration from organic forms of leaf and vine structures as well as the geometry of traditional diamond patterned espalier trees. The system is made up of a single V-shaped glazed terra cotta module that interlocks with adjacent modules to create a diamond shaped screen. Depending on the orientation of the façade, the module’s orientation and overlap with its adjacent module changes in order to optimize its shading capacity. The team is exploring green glazes on the unit, with its dark brown clay body strategically exposed in reference to our organic inspirations. Another area of exploration is the connection between the terra cotta unit and the cable, including ways to allow units to be replaced without disassembly of the system. We are studying both slip-cast and ram pressed methods for producing the modules, lending itself to both expressive forms and mass production. The goal is to create an abstraction of a natural screen on large-scale facades.