Liquid Wall

Liquid Wall 1

Design Brief: As part of an ongoing funded research relationship with the Lafarge Corporation which explores new and novel applications of Lafarge’s Ultra High Performance Concrete called Ductal, Professor Tristan Al-Haddad collaborated with the American Institute of Architects (AIANY) Center for Architecture in New York and several industry leaders to design and prototype a full-scale mockup of a new customizable curtain wall system using this innovative material.  The prototype was the centerpiece for a larger exhibition on future practice in the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) industry.
The 2010 AIANY presidential theme, defined by AIANY President Anthony Schirripa, FAIA, IIDA, is “Architect as Leader.” The concept celebrates the role of architects as innovators and champions of new breakthroughs in construction techniques. It requires vision, risk tolerance, and teamwork. The possibilities of this type of leadership can be seen in “Innovate:Integrate — Building Better Together,” an exhibition of building technology at the Center for Architecture, exploring the collaborative process of design and construction. “In searching for the right platform for an exhibition on leadership in the industry, my thoughts turned to the building process,” explained Schirripa.
The Liquid Wall Prototype, winner of an open competition for curtain-wall design and part of “Innovate:Integrate,” is a first large-scale prototype to be displayed at the Center. Conceived by a team of designers, manufacturers, and construction managers from RFR Consulting Engineers, Coreslab Structures, Ductal by Lafarge, F.J. Sciame Construction, and Georgia Institute of Technology’s Digital Fabrication Lab, it represents a breakthrough in performative façade design. According to Peter Arbour, Assoc. AIA, project manager at RFR Consulting Engineers, who conceived the design of The Liquid Wall Prototype, the goal was to “design something that could be easily constructed, was economical, and easy to maintain.”
Conceived as a panelized system, the frame is made of two forms of Ductal, an ultra-high-performance concrete. Digital modeling and CNC milling at Georgia Tech created undulating flexible molds in which the concrete was set. Triple glazing reduces acoustic transmission while providing high thermal performance, natural day lighting, and transparency. The glazing, designed as replaceable, repairable panels, is installed directly into the concrete frame. Within spandrel cassette panels, non-freezing liquids flow and capture solar energy that is transmitted for use as radiant heat, domestic hot water production, and dehumidification of ventilation systems. The heat recovery systems are optimized to function in both winter and summer. Thermal performance is considered exceptional for this unified curtain wall system due to the elimination of metal units bridging the exterior and interior.
Above text edited from the AIANY e-Oculus newsletter.


Professor Tristan Al-Haddad, Andres Cavieres, with Peter Arbour (RFR Engineers), Lafarge, Coreslab Structures, AIA New York, Sciame Construction