_Tower of Tiles - The Making of...

Tower of Tiles Project grew from a study abroad class entitled 'Fabrication Convoy' where we took students to see local manufacturers in the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland. The students’ knowledge, from the study abroad class, was brought back to Syracuse University to design and build a tower of tiles installation. The goal was for students to learn about the constraints of construction and how they inevitably arise in response to the properties of a material (concrete), its weight, and the tectonics of a constructed object. Thanks to Cemex Concrete, who donated all the material for the project, we were able to see the project through. The sophistication in the concrete mixture allowed us to push how one can design when using new concrete technology. 

The making of... 
First, the tower was conceived as a rethinking of 'fluting' to accentuate the thinness and malleable quality of the tiles and to create vertical slits of void between layers. This also allowed the design to embed a higher tolerance for inconsistencies in the construction. The texture applied to the front repeats up in a curve and is offset to create a fluid movement around the column. The steps to achieving the overall affect were to:

1. 3d print 16 small tiles to create the textured inlay
2. The 3d prints were glued together and cast in urethane rubber formwork - a total of 8 molds
3. We built falsework around the molds in order to cast the concrete 12X to reach approximately 90 tiles
4. To create a very dense, thin, fast curing concrete (we had to make 90 tiles in 4 days), we used:
    - Portland Cement  -Expanded Glass  -Silica Fume  -Fly Ash  -Glass Fiber Reinforcement  -Steel Fiber Reinforcement  -Accelerator  -Water
We applied a treatment to the tiles after they cured to create a shiny, smooth finish
6. We drilled holes into the one side of the tiles so they could be suspended from one side
7. Each tile was mounted to a wood frame that wrapped an existing column


This project would not have been possible without the following support:

School of Architecture, Syracuse University and Dean Michael Speaks

Engineering Department, Syracuse University

Material Sponsor:

Cemex Concrete  (with special thanks to: Alexandre Guerini and Davide Zampini)      

Many Thanks to the following Students:

Matt Dinsmore, Ana Hernandez, Steven O’Hara, Sean Morgan, Apoorva Rao, Yui Kei (Dora) Lo, Nivedita Keshri