FXCollaborative Architects - Permeable Solids, a modular, solar responsive, terra cotta cladding system
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Permeable Solids, a modular, solar responsive, terra cotta cladding system

FXCollaborative Architects

Special Projects  /  Completed
FXCollaborative Architects

FXCollaborative was invited to participate in the Boston Valley Terracotta, Architectural Ceramic Assemblies Workshop (ACAW). The workshop aims to encourage the use of terra cotta early in the architect’s design process. This allows for the efficient production of high-performance facade solutions. Through pre-design and prototype research and development, we explored digital and hand production techniques of terra cotta assemblies and how the variable materiality of terra cotta (through-body color, finish, and glaze) can inform and enhance a facade’s performance. The team coordinated closely with Boston Valley Terracotta, who produced a full-size mock-up of the design, which was assembled by FXCollaborative and the consultant team in Buffalo.

We work in many contexts and cultures. This project allowed us to explore alternatives to architecture’s global addiction to glass, regardless of site and context. This screen wall for exterior and interior use pushes the tradition of modern terracotta sun shades and breezeblocks by providing a spectrum of conditions from open to closed that manipulate daylight to best suit solar orientation and program. The modules’ ability for subtle change across a facade produces ornamental and functional shading patterns that are amplified by the material’s natural imperfections and the resultant play of light. By carefully articulating the modules for solar control within the production and material constraints, a dynamic project specific façade cladding is developed.

Permeable Solids is a solar responsive terracotta cladding system that modulates light through sculpted forms that are both apertures and reflectors. The conical apertures calibrate the depth of light penetration, glare, and view to enhance human comfort within. They can be adjusted for various daylighting controls to serve program types from offices to gallery spaces and reading rooms. The geometry of each module allows for a controlled amount of light to pass through the aperture and reflect off the adjacent modules’ hoods, controlling light reflection and intensity while illuminating the rich interior material. Terracotta inherently has a high percentage of recycled content and lower embodied carbon than precast concrete.

ACAW allowed us to focus on mass instead of glass and pursue increased energy performance of our buildings. Our team was interested in playing up the expression of the clay itself and pairing it with the manipulation of light. We challenged ourselves to see how we could take terra cotta, evolve it, and use it to transform the experience of light in a space. In our exploration of the material’s duality, the team prototyped one module but sees it as a part of a larger kit of parts. The design leverages the rich materiality and craft of terracotta to create a tension between opaque and transparent, dark and light. The variations allow for an expressive design language that dissolves the dichotomy of “mass vs. glass” and advocates for more expressive solid surfaces in building design.

Permeable Solids is a modular, solar responsive, terra cotta cladding system. It’s forms and materiality are both expressive and performative.


 New York, USA
 1 mq
 FXCollaborative Architects LLP
 Gustavo Rodriguez, Partner; Brian Fanning, Partner; Brandon Massey, Senior Associate; Erica Alonzo
 Forst Consulting & Architecture – Exterior envelope; Tripyramid – Fabrication and engineering; Boston Valley Ceramics; Andy Brayman / Matter Factory – Ceramics specialist
 Courtesy FXCollaborative


FXCollaborative is a New York City-based architecture firm founded in 1978. The firm leverages broad expertise in architecture, interiors, and planning to enrich our world with responsible, intelligent, and beautiful design. The firm’s holistic approach integrates client aspirations, an urban sensibility, and a celebration of the craft of building. FXCollaborative’s work ranges from the scale of individual buildings and interiors—office towers, multi-family residences, cultural facilities, workplace, K-12 and higher-education institutions—to the city as a whole, addressing infrastructure and transportation.



#Finalist #Prototipo  #New York, USA  #Brooklyn  #Rivestimento in terracotta  #Terracotta  #FXCollaborative Architects 

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