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(Archive) TerraCool

Urban Oasis

This project was part of DDW 2023
TerraCool Thermal Image — © Dilara Temel

TerraCool is an innovative architectural solution developed to combat urban heat using ceramics for passive cooling through evaporation. Its unique minimal surface geometries enhance cooling performance and structural strength, allowing seamless integration into architecture.

Evaporative Cooling

TerraCool leverages the inherent properties of fired terracotta, making use of its natural porosity to create a cooling effect. This time-honored technique, practiced in regions such as Iran, India, Egypt, and Spain, serves as the foundation for TerraCool's cutting-edge solution. As water permeates the ceramic surface and evaporates, it efficiently cools the surrounding air.

This innovative project utilizes the cooling potential of hollow ceramic elements, drawing inspiration from advanced heat exchangers. Urban heat islands have become a significant challenge, affecting urban living conditions and health. TerraCool offers an affordable and accessible passive cooling solution using ceramics to create more comfortable urban spaces.

TerraCool is an architectural proposal developed to combat the growing problem of urban heat by using the porous material properties of ceramic to passively cool air through evaporation. Its innovative use of minimal surface geometries provides enhanced cooling performance and strength. The project aims to facilitate the architectural integration of evaporative cooling through its modularity, parametric adaptability, and ease of manufacture.

Innovative Geometry

The geometry of TerraCool was designed to feature hollow geometry with the highest possible ratio of surface area to internal volume. This authorizes the communication between the ceramic surface and air. The logic of triply periodic minimal surfaces inspired the geometry. This logic was influenced by research in advanced heat exchangers for power plants. The geometric conditions of the heat exchangers are similar as they require separate, interpenetrating channels with a high volume-to-surface area ratio. Also, the smooth geometry allows flows to move freely without resistance. Aerodynamic shapes have been shown to enhance evaporation in ceramic evaporators. Minimal surfaces also exhibit high structural integrity. This is important to TerraCool, as the geometry must be self-supporting and able to hold its weight as well as the weight of the water it contains.

Design Process

The design process of TerraCool is driven by a meticulous approach that harmonizes tradition with cutting-edge techniques. It begins with the generation of modular hollow ceramic bricks through a parametric design system, which utilizes input parameters to create curves. These curves are then seamlessly stitched together to form the surfaces comprising individual TerraCool units. The next step involves the fabrication of these units using either subtractive or additive manufacturing methods, ensuring precision and efficiency. What sets TerraCool apart is its innovative use of these positives as molds for multiple brick variations, reducing fabrication time and enabling mass customization. Adjustments can be made based on local climatic factors, allowing the designs to be adapted to best suit specific environmental conditions and available water sources. In essence, TerraCool's design process is a fusion of modern digital technology with traditional craftsmanship, culminating in a versatile and sustainable cooling solution.

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TerraCool screen build up — © Dilara Temel

CNC machining foam blocks — © Dilara Temel

Staggering & water flow — © Lachlan Fahy

TerraCool tower iteration and module assembly — © Lachlan Fahy