A team of students and researchers led by director Martin Bechthold of the Harvard University Graduate School of Design’s (GSD) Material Processes and Systems Group developed the Tessellated wall in association with Cevisama which explores the design space of a novel ceramic tiles customization strategy. It is a technique involving the automated cutting of clay extrusions that are industrially produced on a high-tech extrusion line. This process extrude pieces from a single die which as a result reduce tooling cost and maximize the scope for creating diverse design expressions.
The tessellated wall investigates the design space of this approach with a module design that features interlocking, ornamental patterns which let novel structural to use of ceramic blocks in planar, folding and curved wall assemblies. The modules are produced with an intricate extrusion die. Robotic manipulators equipped with wire-cutters can be incorporated into the production system to trim off the end surfaces at custom angles and lengths as the wet clay is extruded. Alternatively, CNC disk cutters can perform automated cutting operations after the large ceramic extrusions have been fired. Both methods allow low-cost customization of the ceramic modules to get a unique three-dimensional expression, control views and light, as well as address different structural needs in the wall. The modules can be bonded with cement for permanent installations, or be dry stacked and clipped together for easy assembly and disassembly, such as in the case of CEVISAMA 2016.
The two walls displayed at the 2016 Cevisama show consist of approximately 700 elements with lengths ranging from 15 to 60 cm. Variations in length and cut off angle lead to 38 unique elements for the installation. These pieces are used to create a unique surface texture on every wall surface, but maintain the overall consistency of a strongly ornamental expression of the tectonic system.
“The design exploration by Harvard University Graduate School of Design draws our attention to the immense possibilities in store with this novel & humble material called Ceramic Tiles.” Surfaces Reporter magazine India.
“The ceramic elements have been extruded from a single die, thus reducing tooling costs.”
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