Terra cotta grotto

This construction can be configured to different geometries.

Photo Credit: Miguel Guitart

“Terra-Cotta Grotto” is a design intervention constructed with standard terracotta extrusions that explores the spatial, material, structural and ecological conditions of a grotto.

Standard terracotta extruded panels contain an unveiled dimension generated by their structural relation to their manufacturing process and material constraints. The open channels between the ribs of the terra-cotta extruded panels have an underexplored aesthetic and environmental conditioning potential.

“Terra-Cotta Grotto” rethinks the form and function of structural and ornamental terra-cotta extrusions. By exposing the material’s underlying structure we recreate the conditions of a grotto, allowing distinct thermal, visual and lighting properties to be explored. A series of strategies reveal a ribbed interior through piling, carving, shifting, corbeling and glazing four different massive corner elements that conform an interior space of powerful material and phenomenological properties.

“Terra-Cotta Grotto” will become a permanent installation in the Western New York area. This massive yet permeable construction will be studied and experienced over time under changing light and environmental conditions. This project merges the industrial production of Boston Valley Terracotta with the tooling potential of the SMART Factory at the University at Buffalo.



Faculty Team

Laura Garofalo-Khan, UB, Coordinator

Omar Khan, UB

Nicholas Bruscia, UB

Jason Green, Alfred University

Miguel Guitart, UB

Dan Vrana, UB

Student team

Michael Hoover, UB

Frank Kraemer, UB

Jelani Lowe, UB