Slip Screen is a component-based skin system designed to create an environmentally-responsive envelope for the Ceramic House project. It integrates historic glazed terra-cotta tile façade systems of the late 1800’s with parametric performance-based, digitally fabricated slip-cast modules. While the historic ornamental tiles have become extinct due to their singular aesthetic function, the Slip Screen modules capitalize on the volumetric nature of slip-cast modules, creating a thickened membrane that regulates the environment. The various functions (evaporative cooling, trombe wall, gray water filtration, and more) of this skin inform its ornamental qualities.
The production of these modular components hybridizes the repetitive efficiencies of mold/cast systems with the non-standard production made possible by CAD/CAM technology. Plaster molds halves are directly milled by a three-axis router. While one half is responsible for the geometry of connections to structure and neighboring modules, the other mold half embeds the performance aspects (Solar Water Heater, Evaporative Cooling, Green Wall, etc.) creating a component set of well-calibrated (but not infinite) variability.
- Performative Modules: The Solar Water Heater module absorbs solar radiation to warm water passing through sealed non-porous units; the Evaporative Cooling module cools air passing through porous, water-filled modules; Green Wall modules accommodate vegetation with built-in capacity for irrigation.
- Parametric Corbelling: Rather than complex tiling, this system follows the tectonic language of masonry-like coursing/stacking to negotiate complex surfaces. A set of seven base modules defined solely by the angle of their interface with their neighbor combines to approximate any two-dimensional curve. These curves are then stacked (as typical courses of masonry would be, but here without a mortar connection). Modules therefore maintain water-tight connections laterally to their neighbors while each course accommodates loose connections to its neighboring courses above and below.
- Fastening and Fabrication Logic: A and B modules for each of the angled components negotiate curvilinear geometries with structure through a continuous channel on one face designed to attach to a steel profile. Modules are fabricated with a two-part variable mold where each half can be switched out for varying interface geometries or performance types.
- Module Design: The Evaporative Cooling module is designed to organize the transfer of heat energy between the two fluid systems of air and water. As water fills modules, it saturates the porous clay body, evaporating and cooling air passing through the openings. Bolt holes for fastening to steel profiles are designed into module in a way that creates a planar interface with structural steel.
- Module Aggregation: In addition to the perforation created by Evaporative Cooling modules, other proposed modules are evident such as the Green Wall module. The oblique striation pattern creates a visual connection running across the horizontal module courses.
- Mold Fabrication: Plaster mold for A-module after machining by CNC router. The complex parting plane logic is apparent as well as 3 hemispherical registration keys on the perimeter, the 2 projections to create bolt holes and the planar mounting channel connecting them.
- Slip-cast Green Wall (B-module): apertures are cut by hand while clay is leather-hard.
- Module Production: B-modules on left and A-modules on right. Mounting channel with bolt holes evident on left front module.
- Aggregation: Evaporative Cooling modules on left with Green Wall module at top right.
- Aggregated modules.
- Detail of Evaporative Cooling A-module: Bolt hole evident as well as channel for structure at far right.
- Detail of module interface: Pour hole from slip-casting process is designed to operate as water-tight connection between modules.
- Detail of scalloping produced through CNC milling of molds.
- Module Population: Based on the necessities of each module performance type (sun for Solar Water Heater module, shade and wind for Evaporative Cooling, etc.), modules are distributed across the "draped" surface according to the micro-climates created by the larger geometry of the massing envelope.
- Ceramic House section: Slip Screen modules perform both passive cooling and heating functions.
- Massing Logic: Similar to historical terra-cotta tile systems, Slip Screen operates as a non- structural membrane that, together with a steel connective system, is "draped" over a more massive concrete structure.
- Ceramic House exterior: The different module types within the Slip Screen skin create a mosaic of color and luster based on the relationship between module performance type and corresponding glaze and clay body.