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coolbrick2Design and 3D Printing Will Change Our World Beyond Recognition

The Cool Brick is not yet a household name, but that is set to change in the near future.

We have already begun to both be amazed and then accept as normal the profound changes that 3D printing is having on the world. Combine the process with intelligent design, and our landscape, the very fabric of our world is set to be transformed.

The Cool Brick is set to do several things simultaneously – harness age-old technology in a contemporary way, provide sustainability and affordability where people struggle and stimulate further development in new technologies.

Evaporation Is the Key

Liz Stinson in Wired magazine (10 March 2015) explained that natural evaporation was used for centuries by people living in hot climates. A wooden lattice covered windows with a porous, water-filled jar inside. Air passing through the lattice evaporates the water, sending ‘a stream of cool air into the house.’

Inexpensive and energy-efficient, before electric fans or central air conditioning, Stinson said that this new Cool Brick project from Emerging Objects has ‘translated the phenomenon of evaporative cooling into a 3D printed ceramic brick, the Cool Brick.

She explained, ‘this hand-sized chunk of ceramic is essentially a hybrid of the wooden lattice and ceramic jar rolled into a single, lightweight slab. According to the designers, the porous material is able to soak up water like a sponge, so when air passes through it (much like the wooden lattice), the water held in the micropores evaporates and introduces a cooling effect.’

Materials and Design

Stinson said that Emerging Objects are best known for ‘exploration of material’ having made 3D printable ‘cement polymers, wood, rubber composites from pulverised tyres and now ceramic.’

Company founder Ronald Rael ‘has long been interested in more traditional forms of architectural building’ and wrote Earth Architecture in 2010. He believes there are ‘clear parallels between earth-built structures and 3D printing. Traditional earthen structures are really 3D printed, additively manufactured, mud clump by mud clump, mud brick by mud brick.

Therefore, the argument runs, it ‘makes sense’ to combine two techniques – traditional construction and digital 3D printing, of which the Cool Brick is the latest manifestation.

The bricks fit together ‘like puzzle pieces bound by mortar’ each with a pattern marked by protrusions. A wall of Cool Bricks creates ‘built-in shading, which protects the interior from transferred heat.’ In theory, a whole dwelling could be built of them.

They can be seen in action at the Museum of Craft and Design in San Francisco in an exhibition called Data Clay: Digital Strategies for Parsing the Earth. Actually, it’s worth having a look at tomorrow’s popular technology today.

Blogs on design, 3D and new thinking:

Vertical Farming Indicates Lateral Thinking To Save the World, 23 June 2014

Mushrooms Come Out of the Dark in New Building Boom, 29 April 2014

Starting Pistol on the Next Revolution Has Been Fired, 11 June 2013

Image: Emerging Objects