As part of the sixth annual Architectural Ceramic Assemblies Workshop (ACAW), ARO collaborated with Heintges Consulting Architects & Engineers, and the fabricator TriPyramid, to explore the use of terra cotta in high-performing building envelopes.

ACAW prototype

Inspired by the organic forms of vine structures and the geometry of traditional diamond-patterned espalier trees, the team developed V-Soleil, a curtainlike terra cotta brise soleil. The system is made of interlocking V-shaped glazed terra cotta modules, supported on a double-layer tension net structure to create a diamond-shaped screen.

GIF of the team assembling the structure

Depending on the solar orientation of the façade, the module’s position can change to optimize its shading capability. The green glazing, with its dark brown clay body strategically exposed, reference the organic inspirations.

Diagram showing the different orientations of the terra cotta assembly
The module’s position can be optimized for different solar orientations.

The team also explored the connection between the terra cotta unit and the cable, looking for ways to replace individual units without disassembly of the whole system.

  • A double-layer tension net structure creates a diamond-shaped screen to support the modules.
  • Detail of interlocking terra cotta modules.
    The V-shaped modules interlock with adjacent modules.
Rendering of a possible sun shade application
When assembled, the modules create a sunshade inspired by vine-covered trellises.

V-Soleil builds upon ARO’s commitment to elevate simple materials through scale, pattern, and texture, and activate their properties through thoughtful fabrication.

Assembled ACAW prototype

Heintges, which specializes in high-performing façades, is currently working with ARO on the Green-Wood Cemetery Education Center.


2022 ARCHITECT R+D Award

Photograph of a brise soleil made up of interlocking terra cotta units
Stephen Cassell Discusses V-Soleil and ACAW on Facade Tectonics’ SKINS Podcast
V-Soleil in ARCHITECT magazine