Iowa State architecture team wins award for use of masonry to cool buildings

AMES, Iowa – An innovative way to cool buildings using 3D-printed ceramics has earned an Iowa State University architecture team an award in masonry design and construction.

Mashrabiya mockup

A full-scale mockup of the façade was
assembled from 140 individual 3D-printed
ceramic units to display the gradient of
assembly potentials. Contributed by
International Masonry Institute

A team of four faculty and staff from Iowa State’s architecture department submitted a project in the inaugural Joan B. Calambokidis Innovation in Masonry Competition. Shelby Doyle, assistant professor and Daniel J. Huberty Faculty Fellow in Architecture; Leslie Forehand, lecturer; Nicholas Senske, assistant professor; and Erin Hunt, computation and construction lab associate, won in the young architects and engineers category.

Their project, “Mashrabiya 2.0,” is a 3D-printed ceramic façade that can be integrated into a building’s mechanical system to control light, airflow and privacy while offering evaporative cooling. The team was inspired by Arabic lace screens, replacing the traditional wood with 3D-printed ceramics.

The façade comes in three modules or shapes. Woven patterns on the screen wall create “micro-pores” that help ventilate and cool the space as air passes through.

Doyle, Forehand and Senske founded Iowa State’s computation and construction lab, which combines computational design and digital fabrication. CCL is housed in the Communications Building.

The $10,000 award recognizes Calambokidis, who retired last year as president of the International Masonry Institute. Renowned architects and leaders in the masonry industry served on the competition jury. Entries were submitted by architects, engineers, students, academics and firms from across the United States and Canada. 

"It is a great honor to receive this award," Forehand said. "The computation and construction lab at Iowa State University connects developments in computation to the challenges of construction through teaching, research and outreach. Often our work feels very experimental, so it was amazing to be acknowledged by trade industries that understand the market and think our idea is viable."

Mashrabiya storefront window

Rendering of the shading applied to a standard storefront window. Contributed by International Masonry Institute.