3D printed ceramic cooling solutions inspired by termite mounds

For their thesis project at Bartlett School of Architecture in the UK, designer Rameshwari Jonnalagedda designed 3D printed ceramic structures that mimic the porous architecture of termite mounds, which can be used for evaporative cooling.

Called TerraMounds, the project draws inspiration from termite mounds. The designs have a high surface area to volume ratio, to optimise heat exchange. The structures have a built-in fan to draw air upwards, inspired by the termite mound’s egress complex. Water trickles down from a planter to facilitate evaporative cooling, which is enhanced by the clay’s moisture absorption properties.

As proof-of-concept, Jonnalagedda 3D printed ceramic desktop prototypes with various minimal surface geometries with different porosities. A gradient design was achieved by mixing terracotta clay with stone white clay.

The aim is to create cooling clay towers with adjustable porosity levels, so that they can be customised for different environments, such as moisture buffers in humid areas and ventilation boosters in dry regions. Other designs are also possible, like façade panels, partition walls, artificial reefs and urban gardens.

Photos: Rameshwari Jonnalagedda