• Architectural Ceramic Assemblies Workshop


UB teams with Alfred University to advance stackable ceramic façade prototype

TITLE: UB teams with Alfred University to advance stackable ceramic façade prototype
DATE: August 20, 2021
SOURCE: University at Buffalo (UBNow)
BY: Rachel Teaman

Read the full article on the UB news page

A team of UB architecture faculty and students has developed a stackable ceramic facade system that opens new possibilities in user-generated architecture and sculptural geometries in terra cotta.

The research, being pursued with a team of faculty and students from Alfred University’s College of Ceramics, was presented at the 2021 Architectural Ceramic Assemblies Workshop (ACAW), which took place virtually on Aug. 19. UB was both a participant and co-organizer of the sixth annual ACAW event, along with Boston Valley Terra Cotta and the Carnegie Mellon School of Architecture.

The facade prototype developed by UB employs a system of uniform terra cotta units that are stacked and locked into place using fastening techniques derived from traditional wood joinery. The system pairs Alfred University’s design and material expertise in ceramics with UB’s capacity in digital fabrication and façade-system design using terra cotta.

The UB team is led by Jin Young Song, associate professor of architecture, whose research interests focus on the tension between structure and ornament in architecture, and Dan Vrana, fabrication manager for the School of Architecture and Planning, along with a team of graduate architecture students. Jongmin Shim, associate professor of civil and structural engineering, has provided research guidance on the structural integrity of the facade system.

Architecture Dean Robert G. Shibley (far left) meets with Team UB-Alfred in UB’s SMART Fabrication Factory to review progress of their ceramic facade prototype. Credit: Jin Young Song

The reconfigurability of the interlocking, modular wall system creates the potential for user interaction with the architecture. For example, a screen wall can be stacked high in the summer for shading and then lowered in the winter to allow for more light. The natural heat-retaining abilities of terra cotta also support passive heating and cooling.

“The project celebrates the permanence of terra cotta as a material while exploring the impermanence of the built environment,” says Song. “Users can build and unbuild meaningful structural supports using the modular system.”

Easy assembly of blocks using a unique interlocking method. Credit: University at Buffalo

Read the full article on the UB news page

Header image: Part of the UB/Alfred University team’s prototype production process for ACAW 2021.
Photo credit: University at Buffalo

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