Unipor-Ziegel Group

University students present results on novel brick models

On the initiative of the German Unipor Group, students at Darmstadt University of Technology (Hesse, Germany) and Delft University of Technology (Southern Netherlands) researched experimental and intelligent façades.

In cooperation with the Unipor-Ziegel Group, two types of seminar were initiated: a block seminar including a trip to a brick plant in Delft and a traditional seminar running over several weeks with a theoretical focus in Darmstadt. In each course, the students designed novel façade modules that can be integrated in existing masonry systems. Precondition was a monolithic system that combines load-bearing and thermal-insulating functions. The focus was on design, but at the same time building physics aspects – like, for example, thermal bridges – had to be taken into consideration.

Realizing ideas in solid models

Besides an introduction to design principles and materials teaching, the seminar plan covered the fundamentals of 3D design. At the end, the students designed different brick elements on the computer. “Following critical analysis of strengths and weaknesses, we each selected an element and transferred this from paper into reality”, explains seminar leader Dennis De Witte. “With the help of a 3D printer, we were able to create small models on the scale of 1:4 – including firing in the kiln.”

At the concluding course presentation in Darmstadt, with regard to functionality and design, the focus was on a masonry brick with integrated drainage. A novel “down-pipe brick” conceals the drainage system near the façade and would be accessible for maintenance via the base of the building. According to the students, the system component opens up the possibility to accentuate the verticality of the façade and at the same time mask less aesthetic elements. On the basis of existing vertically perforated bricks, it can be simply incorporated into an appropriate system.


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