MASONRY SCREEN WALLS IN PARAGUAY:
CREATING A DIGITAL FRAMEWORK FOR OPTIMIZING ENVIRONMENTAL
PERFORMANCE THROUGH SHAPE CONFIGURATION
Submitted in Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science
The Pennsylvania State University, Department of Architecture
Masonry screen walls are brick enclosures that utilize oblongs and different patterns to create walls that act as screens to provide shade and natural ventilation to buildings. These walls are an affordable way to protect buildings in locations with hot and humid climates, like Paraguay.
While there has been much empirical innovation in the design of this type of brickworks in Paraguay, few studies have assessed their performance and established design parameters that can guide more efficient designs. Consequently, this project by Elena Vazquez, proposes a digital framework for optimizing the environmental performance of masonry screen walls through shape configuration.
The performance-driven system sought in this research goes beyond the rigid rationality of function, with a situated awareness that aims to include the particularities of culture, place, and the environment. The development of the proposed “smart” low-tech framework relies on several computational design methods.
First, an analysis of selected case studies is performed identifying the typical design parameters for these walls, formulating a design language. The design language is afterwards translated into a parametric generative system, based on the design and construction limitations defined in the previous step.
Afterwards, the parametric model is connected to a simulation engine and an optimization algorithm. The simulation engine measures daylight metrics and cooling loads, as an indicator of the performance of this passive design strategy. Finally, the digital framework outputs a set of designs with improved performance metrics, allowing the designer to choose from a family of optimized designs.