Research produced with the Material Processes and Systems Group, Harvard GSD
The paper Ceramic Tectonics: Tile Grid Shell, presented at the IASS 2018 Symposium, provides a detailed overview of the project.
Funicular grid shells are typically constructed from steel or timber struts, but no examples are known using structural ceramics, a material known for its longevity and fire resistance. We report a method for the design and fabrication of a novel grid shell structure from unreinforced ceramic tile with minimal use of metal fasteners. Full-scale studies tested joinery and connection details, large-scale mockups helped to verify the assembly sequence, and physical component tests determined allowable strength values for structural design. A novel assembly sequence allows each rib to be installed vertically from above, eliminating the need for mechanical connections between ribs. A prototypical grid shell spans 6m with grid members fabricated from two layers of 6mm thick ceramic tile.