Flowing Matter

Team: Stefano Andreani, Jose Luis Garcia del Castillo Lopez, Aurgho Jyoti

Traditionally, ceramic assemblies of complex geometries, such as vaults or curved walls, were achieved through the use of intricate scaffolding for both guiding and temporary structural support, and were performed by highly skilled craftsmen. Today’s building context is characterized by a gradual loss of skilled artisans and increasingly higher labor prices, whereas the implementation of advanced technological tools in the industrial environment is turning ceramic fabrication into a faster, cheaper and more precise process.
Papers about the project were presented at 2012 ISARC and ACADIA.

Video: Flowing Matter

This research project aims to bring the practice of building ceramic structures closer to the contemporary production context by proposing a revision of a well established production method -clay extrusion- and informing it with deep computational design and numerically controlled fabrication methods. In particular, the extrusion process combined with CNC controlled robotic wire-cutting would allow for the production of serialized mass customized ceramic elements, whose shape would be defined by ruled geometries. The resulting tectonic system would be so that the nature of its elements would inform the construction process, allowing for an easier and more precise interlocking assembly.

This research looks at the benefits that this production process combined with the properties of ruled seams could bring into the generation of complex ceramic structures in terms of design, structural behavior, and on-site optimization. It reviews the historical and contemporary precedents, studies the role of these interlocking ruled geometries, its implications in the logics of component production and building construction, presents a series of tests and prototypes developed with robotic technologies in order to emulate the envisioned industrial process, and highlights the performance of this system in terms of material optimization and sustainability.