Constellation of bricks

Materials World magazine
20 Oct 2017

Ellis Davies reports on a unique 3D-printed structure.

A project seeking to overcome the constraints of modern architectural production with a structure made entirely of non-standard components has recently been displayed at the Fabrication and Material Technologies Lab of the University of Hong Kong (HKU), China. The structure, called the Ceramic Constellation Pavilion, is the university’s first robotically manufactured intervention, and is made-up of 2,000 3D-printed terracotta bricks.

Around 700kg of raw terracotta clay was used to print individual bricks over a three-week period, each of which taking two-to-three minutes, and then fired at 1,025oC. The pavilion features a load-bearing composite/timber structure, and stands at 3.8m tall. The bricks sit in the frame at different angles, enabling varying degrees of transparency and morphological shifts. The pavilion is one of the first of its kind in the world to incorporate this specific material system.

All components of the pavilion were made from equipment at the new Robotics Lab at HKU, and then assembled by students over the course of a 10-day workshop.

The project was a collaboration between the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Hong Kong and Sino Group, Hong Kong, under an initiative that supports art, culture and technology, which is intended to foster cultural awareness of new technologies for the built environment.