One of my favorite aspects of 3D printing is its capacity to scale; engineers can print at the nanoscale, while architects can create pavilions. There will be numerous 3D-printed structures during the next decade. The industry of architecture, interior, and decor design will never be the same again.
If you don’t believe me, this is the article for you. Regular readers will be familiar with some of the house-printing technologies presented here, but I wanted to bring them all together and provide updates where applicable. But have you heard of these:
Buddha of Afghanistan
3D printing has been used in a lot of interesting ways over the last few years, from printing food to life-saving medical supplies. Now, technology is being used to try and restore lost history and culture in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan used to have a pair of the largest standing Buddha statues in the entire world, which had survived countless wars and invasions in the region between the 1500s, when the statues were first carved, right up to the invasion by the Russians in the 1980s. However, the Taliban leaders who came to power following the Russian invasion used dynamite to destroy the great statues in 2001, seemingly obliterating them from history.
The Buddha statues were not the only piece of history to be leveled by the Taliban and a team of specialists from across the globe believes they can leverage 3D technology to right this wrong. The United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) are leading a group of restorers, architects, and specialists to rebuild the Buddhas of Bamiyan. They are using the Geomagic Studio software package and a ProJect color 3D printer to make 1/25 scale models of the statues in order to plan out the large-scale work. They also believe they can use the models to determine how to reassemble the pieces in the rough terrain of Afghanistan.
A spokesman for one of the groups working on the project said “Through our work, we give Bamiyan and its residents the chance to be in this unique historic and scenic area. And through doing this we strive to give them a future of tourism and finally find peace.”
Smith | Allen Studio is the collaboration between an architect and a sculptor. Bryan Allen has a Masters in Architecture from the University of California at Berkeley and Stephanie Smith has degrees in Art Practice Psychology from the same school. Their installation is located deep in a redwood forest in Gualala, CA. Echoviren “merges architecture, art, and technology to explore the dialectic between man, machine and nature.” Printed on several Type A Machines, over 500 biodegradable pieces were combined to form the 10’ x 10’ x 8’ pavilion. It’s expected to decompose over 50 years. Though a contrasting white, its presence still seems to fit. The design is natural, bark-like, and invites the forest floor to grow upon it. If you find it, please be so kind as to send me the GPS coordinates.
DUS Architects, in collaboration with Ultimaker Ltd, Fablab Protospace, and Open Coop, built the KamerMaker (RoomBuilder) to advance mobile manufacturing of livable structures. It’s entirely open source so that others can build it where needed. If you only want to add on to your existing home, you may want to look into…
Two of the founders of Emerging Objects are architects, so while most of the company’s initial R&D has been performed through sculpture, their technology will scale up to handle building-sized creations. They specialize in using renewable and local materials like salt, wood, and cement. Maybe you’d be more interested in a lunar unit with…
Foster and Partners
Through a consortium arranged by the European Space Agency, Foster and Partners are using the D-Shape to print bases on the moon with regolith (moon dust). A 1.5-tonne mockup has been created, but the end goal will accommodate four people. Lunar getaways will be a thing in a couple of decades.
There are others that have researched building print, like those behind FabClay, but what I want to see more developed is printing glass structures from glass with concentrated sun rays. All of these companies are looking to 3D printing for construction purposes because it’s highly efficient. Control over shape allows the form to follow function all the more closely. These technologies will give us more functional, sturdy, and attractive houses that require less material and time to build. I’m all for that.