Topic: Articles

Clay Culture: Cool Bricks


1 Evaporative cooling airflow diagram.

The system that serves as inspiration for Emerging Objects’ Cool Brick 3-D printed ceramic brick isn’t new, but the technology that perfects it, using evaporative cooling to reduce air temperatures, certainly is.

Evaporative cooling has been used since at least 2500 BCE, when ancient civilizations were using vessels of water to keep rooms cool. It’s well-suited for hot, low-humidity climates and costs far less than refrigerated air conditioning—as much as 80% less.

According to Emerging Objects’ website, Cool Brick designers Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello were inspired by the Muscatese evaporative cooling window—part wood screen, part water-filled ceramic vessel—that they saw during their travels in the Middle East.

They explained their ultimate design as “Comprised of 3-D printed porous ceramic bricks set in mortar, each brick absorbs water like a sponge and is designed as a three-dimensional lattice that allows air to pass through the wall.


2 A Muscatese evaporative cooling window combines a wood screen and a ceramic vessel filled with water.

As air moves through the 3-D printed brick, the water that is held in the micropores of the ceramic evaporates, bringing humidified air into an interior environment, lowering the temperature using the principle of evaporative cooling (1 and 2). The bricks are modular and interlocking (3 and 4) and can be stacked together to make a screen (5). The 3-D lattice creates a strong bond when set in mortar. The shape of the brick also creates a shaded surface on the wall to keep a large percentage of the wall’s surface cool and protected from the sun to improve the wall’s performance.”

3–5 3-D printed ceramic Cool Bricks designed by Emerging Objects pictured as single units and stacked and secured with mortar to create a screen. Images courtesy of Emerging Objects.

The Cool Brick, which is not yet available to the public, was included in the San Francisco Museum of Craft and Design’s exhibition “Data Clay: Digital Strategies for Parsing the Earth”—which focused on the ways architects, artists, and designers are combining ceramics with digital technology.

To learn more about the Cool Brick project and for updates on availability, visit

This article originally appeared on The American Ceramic Society’s Ceramic Tech Today blog. ACerS Corporate Member Tethon 3D sponsored the Cool Brick project. Learn more at


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