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Masonry screen walls in Paraguay

Dissertation / Thesis:
Aug 2017 to May 2018

Subtitle: 
Creating a digital framework for shape, performance and optimization
Project description: 

Masonry screen walls are brick enclosures that utilize oblongs and different patterns to create walls that act as screens to provide shade and natural ventilation to buildings. These walls are an affordable and creative way to protect buildings from direct sunlight, in locations with hot and humid climates, like Paraguay. Perforated walls are affordable because they rely on a widely available material, bricks, and deploy low tech construction techniques. These walls have been increasingly used in Paraguay in the last two decades, to deal with the existing harsh climate conditions.

While there has been much empirical innovation in the design of this type of innovative brickworks in Paraguay, few studies have assessed their efficiency and established design parameters that can guide more efficient designs. Consequently, this project seeks to develop a digital framework for the design of optimized perforated brick walls used for natural ventilation and shading in Paraguay. The optimization is measured according to their performance as environmental control elements. The performance-driven system sought in this research goes beyond the rigid rationality of function, with a situated awareness that aims to include the particularities of culture, place, and the environment. Therefore, this research develops the digital framework based on local design traditions and affordable, low-tech construction methods.

This thesis aims to achieve four goals. First, to develop a digital tool that helps design locally grounded optimized solutions, enhancing architects’ understanding of how design features of perforated masonry walls affect the energy requirements of the building. Second, to establish design criteria and suggestions for future designs of Perforated Masonry walls. Third, to promote the technological updating of local construction traditions, particularly those low-energy strategies in the current context of increasing environmental and ecological change. Finally, this project highlights the importance of designing performance-based systems that react to the context on which they stand, with an environmentally conscious approach.

This project was supported by a Fulbright Program grant sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the United States Department of State.

Team: 
Candidate: Elena Vazquez
Advisors: Jose Duarte, Ute Poerschke