Digital Islam by David CelentoDigital Islam by David CelentoDigital Islam by David CelentoDigital Islam by David Celento

Context
The following project was completed in early 2009, during the second stage of a three month residency at EKWC (European Ceramic Work Centre) in The Netherlands where the focus was to explore Ceramics in Architecture in a collaboration between an artist and a designer. I'm an architect and I collaborated with Del Harrow, a ceramic artist. Our particular aim was to explore digital methods for design and/or production along with traditional methods. Provided here are some insights into the process and results of one of the projects.

Research
The project shown here extends the work performed during the first stage of residency, in the summer of 2008. Del and I were inspired by the research of physicist and Harvard doctoral student Peter Lu into Girih tiles, commonly known as Penrose tiling. Lu described a conceptual breakthrough that occurred around 1200CE when tile patterns were “re-conceived as tessellations of a special set of equilateral polygons” in Islamic architecture. This allowed for precise patterns to be developed over large surfaces using aperiodic (non-repeating) Penrose patterning.

Our goal then was to create a tessellated screen wall for extremely arid surfaces. We decided to explore Penrose shapes to create interlocking clay extrusions. Our hope was to use these shapes to provide a visually engaging geometry while simultaneously meeting the performative goals of a load-bearing system that would provide cooling, ventilation, and light filtration using a method of horizontal stacked open-celled units.

Second Stage Exploration
During the intervening months before we returned for our second stage at the EKWC, I was increasingly intrigued by the interlocking nature of Penrose geometries and their potential to create tiles that would tessellate over potentially doubly-curved facades. What follows is the work I did independently when we returned in early 2009.

Rather than create shallow tiles that might be pressed, I wanted to explore the potentials afforded by CNC methods with deep patterning, yet being lightweight. This suggested a production process utilizing slip-casting.

Special thanks to EKWC and all the staff for a superb experience!