top of page

AS+GG Terracotta Research and Development

Our research explored the relationship between exploratory form and our current design thinking of using materiality as a design process. Our office is currently conducting research in concrete and thru this process we discover a lot of material substitution and material make up that can be explore in order fields. Even do this did not translate one to one with this phase of our terracotta research, what it did for us was to clearly frame our scope on how we can use materials to explore different design processes from aggregation, texture, and performance.

The formal part our design was to rethink how decades old material that was use mainly in exterior and compression form could have other practical application with the aid of other innovative process, which cloud give this material a multilateral application. Our team thru our design discovery started thinking about how our design could potentially stack and form in an organic pattern that would follow our overall design intent. From the beginning we wanted to create a form that would be external and could be hosted by a massing of our choice, we also intended to use our design as a secondary element in our building form (seating, shade, energy collection, etc). We believe that given the different parameters that terracotta has been use in the past and present, we could potentially combine different design part in to one. Given the time constrains of this research we focused on the façade component, leaving these other parameters for further investigation within our office and R&D team


Our initial discovery phase yield a 3-part system that could be anchor to any massing, this derived from an overall understanding of the manufacturing process and the extrusion process. Following our initial investigation we came up a few criteria’s that we wanted to keep and exemplify in our design, the following are the main ones. Curvature, we knew that the system had to be broken up in too few segments to be fabricated, so defining the overall system into curves was key for developing our design script. Our basic geometry was based on a Bezier curve, which was parametrically controlled to aid our multifaceted design script, this process allowed us to set various performative benchmarks. Texture, we knew that we wanted to incorporate a formal texture to our design that was both performative and aspirational, by understanding the extrusion and casting process we came up with grooved face panel. The last design criteria we wanted to incorporate was Aperture, this came in various forms, but the most significant was to understand how aperture would affect daylight and structural backing for our design.

Collaboration | TT/Core | BV

Our collaboration with our team provided a great feedback on how we could optimize both our form and create a framework for us to start thinking about connection details, system, and real-life scenarios. We wanted to flush out as much as we could in this process, to accurately investigate systems that could be viable in different localities. For example, our FE analysis showed that our design could withstand winds speeds shown in the Midwest and Southeast (hurricane winds), this allow us to think about our design not only locally but globally. This is key when developing research within a firm that does work all over the world.

One key aspect for our design was to think about how performative the material and our design would withstand various site conditions, we explain the FE analysis, but what about other local criteria’s such weather conditions, manufacture conditions, embody carbon, material availability, etc. By integrating this and other criteria’s in our design we found that our design research could potentially be use in design for thermal, solar and optimize for embody carbon. This KPI’s are key to not only our team but to our clients and our colleagues, we want to make sure when we engage in R&D we take in to account inputs from various sectors of our industry.

Design Script | ASGG

We use various visual scripting platform to develop our base model, however our main focused was to use Rhino3D and Grasshopper. Add-ins to Grasshopper allow us to build a multilayer definition which could track various inputs that we believe where key for the overall performance of our design. By using evolutionary solvers like Wallacei and other plugins in our design process we were able to run and simulate various design inputs. The result was the development of large sets of data sets that we could benchmark and classify base on import design decisions. For example, if we wanted our façade to allow daylight but have the lowest embody carbon base on orientation of the buildings and height, we could look at our data set and select the ones that perform within our criteria. One important benchmark we wanted to analysis and understand was the embody carbon, by using tools like Ladybug, Honeybee, and industry metrics, gave us a clear overall view how our design intent could have potential environmental consequences.

008 - gh Wallacei Model Facade.jpg
Onward | ASGG R&D

In conjunction with our sustainability group we have target a few additional material researches that we think could help us achieve a higher level of design and global responsibility to our practice. Terracotta been one of them, we hope to still complete various aspects of our design that did not made it thru. We believe that system can be multilateral and can be used for things, one of the ideas we had was to incorporate digital twin, IoT and sensor to inform building owner and other of localize information that could be useful for them. The second part that we believe still has some part to our research is to use other material make up in order to produce a material that are both core functional and can help the environment by removing contaminants from its surroundings.

We also host various hackathons thru out the year and part of our intent is to bring such external research back to the office for further investigation. Is key for our practices to share knowledge thru hands on training and apply research. By exposing our process during such hackathon, we open the avenue for others to take on other part of the research or to rethink what we have done in a different way. We believe by hosting and allowing other to interrogation our ideas promotes a higher level of discourse with in our industry.  

bottom of page