AUTHOR: Spencer Allan
Green Building & Design magazine commented on the growing popularity of architectural terra cotta for building design, exploring the inherent benefits of the material as supported by examples of new builds from recent years:
- Terra cotta is experiencing a renaissance as a sustainable material in architecture. Its weather-resistance, thermal performance, and low moisture absorption rate make it an ideal material for building envelopes and roofing.
- The material’s ability to be customized in shape, size, and color is highly suited for creating expressive façades. Terra cotta is becoming increasingly popular with today’s architects for its low environmental impact and customization potential.
- Researchers are using terra cotta in innovative new ways, from high performance façades to structural applications.
Boston Valley’s annual ACAWorkshop received a mention for its research and development contributions in the usage of terra cotta for high performance façades. Below is an excerpt from the article:
“The Architectural Ceramic Assemblies Workshop (ACAW) explores new applications for architectural terra cotta within the realm of façade design. At ACAW 2021, a team composed of members from HOK, TriPyramid Structures, and the Gartner Division of Permasteelisa North America experimented with using terra cotta as window mullions, post-tensioned with interior stainless steel tendons. Clay in general has a high compressive strength, so with the addition of stainless steel tendons to provide tensile strength, it can serve as an efficient structural system.
The role that terra cotta can play in architectural innovation is considerable, and a driver in much if not all of the projects developed at ACAW. Importantly, terra cotta is now more than ornament and rainscreen – it can be a part of the structure, a lighter weight and lower-carbon replacement for aluminum, steel, and concrete. And just as important in this era of ‘buildings-as-sculpture’, it allows for an infinite variety of color, glaze, and profile.”
Photo credit: ©Patrick Bernard Photography