Two discrete wall systems based on the same concept of modularity, Drape Wall and Cloak Wall both provide alternatives to stick construction for single-family homes.
Drape Wall features a system of vacuum-formed plastic bricks that snap together on an aluminum frame to form a building's exterior shell. Some bricks are opaque and others are perforated to serve as windows and to allow ventilation. On the interior, the exposed aluminum frame is covered with a quilt or drape that serves as insulation. The quilt incorporates a layer of waterproofing and a layer of insulation that also manages acoustics. Flaps can be opened and closed to expose the perforated bricks, allowing natural light and air to enter the space.
A newer exterior wall system, Cloak Wall, expands on the principles of Drape Wall. Instead of using framing for support, the bricks of Cloak Wall are held in place by compression forces from a system of tightened wires. When a structure is built using Cloak Wall, bricks can be set in place to permit larger or smaller window openings depending on the climate. Once the position is set, bricks are clamped to the foundation by a system of tension cables. The exterior is painted with automotive paint that shifts hue depending on the angle of the sun, regulating heat absorption and therefore interior temperature. In Cloak Wall, the waterproofing barrier is a separate layer of ETFE plastic that is installed between the bricks and the quilt. The quilt itself is expanded to integrate lighting fixtures and storage pockets.
The jury appreciated the comprehensiveness of the research, and the original approach of designers Marc Swackhamer and Blair Satterfield of HouMinn Practice. “I found it very fascinating,” Andres Lepik said. “I like this idea of redefining a wall system—not just make it better, but rethink it completely.” Blaine Brownell praised the integration of interior systems into the quilt. “It would be interesting to see in future iterations how it plays out with further integration of these layers,” he said. “It seems fairly resource-intensive still, but I like the tactility.”
PROJECT Drape Wall/Cloak Wall
ARCHITECT HouMinn Practice, Houston and Minneapolis—Marc Swackhamer, Blair Satterfield
PAINT RESEARCH University of Minnesota—Gary Meyer (associate professor, computer science and engineering); Seth Berrier (research assistant)
DESIGN CRITICISM Marcus Martinez; Patrick McGlothlin; Aidlin Darling Design—Adam Rouse; University of Cincinnati—Karl Wallick
PROTOTYPE PRODUCTION University of Minnesota—Dave Hultman; Mathew Haller (research assistant); Terrazign—Susanna Hohmann; Industrial Art and Design —Rob Tickle; Boston Scientific CRM—David Wulfman (principal engineer); Cranbrook Academy—Antonio Rodriguez; Loom Studio—Don Vu
SPONSORSHIP Dayton Hudson Faculty Fellowship; Metropolitan Design Center, University of Minnesota; Weisman Art Museum; Digital Design Consortium, University of Minnesota; Goldstein Museum of Design; Dupont Performance Coatings