Valeria Piccioni

Sustainable Design Graduation Studio

The AM envelope: a multifunctional façade element

The AM envelope. A mono-material façade element with complex geometries for structural and thermal performance produced by additive manufacturing

Growing concern about resource consumption in the construction industry has brought new challenges to the design of façades. Compared with traditional techniques, AM stands out for the possibility it offers of fabricating complex geometries embedding multiple functions. In this thesis, an additively manufactured multi-functional façade element is proposed. Its spatially varying cellular geometry provides stiffness for the most stressed parts and takes advantage of the low thermal conductivity of air to provide thermal insulation. Physical testing and software simulations have been used to assess the properties of complex geometries and retrieve design guidelines. A digital tool, encompassing performance-driven design, performance assessment and geometry generation for fabrication, was developed. The study highlights how, by manipulating porosity and material distribution, it is possible to design stiff, insulating envelope components that are suitable for manufacturing with FDM using polymers. The design freedom offered by generation in a parametric environment suggests countless possibilities for application in architecture.

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