If the term ventilation block doesn’t get thrown around much in contemporary architecture, blame technology. An important feature in eastern architecture, ventilation blocks—those prefabricated, decorative concrete modules we’ve all seen in older buildings—have long been a traditional, low-cost means of combating both heat and rain by allowing breezes in, whilst keeping at bay the harshest elements served up by tropical climates.
They also provided opportunities for experimentation with form, shape, texture and shadow, opportunities now rendered moot with the advent of air conditioning and sleek building materials. Thankfully, 2nd year architecture students at the National Institute of Singapore won’t let the ventilation block go quietly. They’ve done some experimenting of their own with the precast building block, and the results are richly detailed in Casting Architecture, a book that showcases the expressive qualities intrinsic to this practical, basic—and slowly disappearing—architectural device.
Photo: Art Info