|The installation explores the structural capabilities of thin, large format ceramic tiles|
Developed by researchers and students from the Material Processes and Systems (MaP+S) Group at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Ceramic Tectonics: Tile Grid Shell explores the structural capabilities of thin, large format ceramic tiles – a product commonly used as an interior surface finish or exterior cladding.
Structural applications such as the Harvard grid shell are emerging as new applications for tiles, challenging age-old perceptions of ceramic as surface finish. Ceramic Tectonics asks the question; can a product typically experienced as a two-dimensional surface also define and enclose a three-dimensional space?
Fabricated from un-reinforced 6mm thick ceramic tile, the catenary form of this triangular, self-supporting grid shell is designed to minimize internal stresses and efficiently span between three points of support. The structure’s 30 ceramic ribs form a novel structural pattern of triangles and hexagons, and are a world-wide first system of this kind constructed from ceramics. The notched connections between structural ribs accommodate for a novel assembly sequence that eliminates the need for mechanical connections between intersecting ribs, and allows each rib to be installed vertically from above.
The project team developed a computational approach to generate the geometry of the pavilion, discretize the form into individual components, accommodate for assembly tolerances, and generate the toolpath geometry for each component. This digital workflow enabled the project team to quickly adjust assembly tolerances and component dimensions during the design and prototyping phase.
With a maximum interior height of 2.48m, and a span of 6m between supports, the structure includes approximately 13.5sqm of occupiable interior space. It consists of 462 unique elements ranging from 82 – 181cm in length. The structural depth of each element ranges from 20 – 31cm and is determined by its location within the structure. The ceramic elements measure 107.22sqm in total area. In total, the structure weighs approximately 1,662 kg.
The Trans/Hitos slogan “Cycles” refers to a fresh way of understanding architecture by providing a glimpse of a different cycle, suggesting that what has been learned in the last few years will have a great significance in driving an architecture that thinks about people and seeks to solve their problems. This explains the boom of citizen participation processes, which attempt to prioritize user needs, or the ever more frequent social architecture designs that usually respond to an immediate need, caused by some type of crisis, or to political or environmental issues. All this is framed within a sustainability context, in which regeneration and reusability will play an important role in this new phase. The recovery, both of spaces and of materials, leads us towards an architecture in which tradition will coexist with other such innovative aspects in the world of architecture as the circular economy.
Director: Professor Martin Bechthold
Download of images and more info at https://cevisamadossier.
Editorial Director and Senior Writer for TileLetter and TileLetter ARTISAN
Lesley Goddin has been writing and journaling since her first diary at age 11. Her journey has taken her through a career in publishing and publicity, landing her the editor position of TileLetter and its special publications in 2006. Her goal is to educate, inspire, recognize and encourage those in the tile industry -- especially the tile and stone contractor. Other interests include the soft, purring marvels known as cats, labyrinth walking, drumming and percussion, and a range of spiritual, musical and artistic pursuits.