From prosthetics to fashion accessories, 3D printing continues its design dominance. Now, it’s capabilities are being applied to architecture and construction.
Chicago-based WATG Urban Architecture Studio has designed the winning entry in a competition to create the world’s first free form 3D-printed building. The Freeform Home Design Challenge tasked architects, designers, artists and engineers to come up with 3D-printed solutions for real life.
The winning structure, titled Curve Appeal, met the brief to create a 600-800 square feet home that would push the boundaries of traditional architectural aesthetics, construction, and building systems.
Thanks to the competition’s sponsor, US construction company Branch Technology, this futuristic abode is set to become a reality. Having developed its own mix of plastic and carbon fibre, Branch Technology will print the structure by breaking down and optimising the initial design surfaces of the house to produce what they call a “self-supporting cellular matrix”.
The dwelling is composed of panels welded together to make up a continuous surface. WATG liken this kind of construction to muscles on bones, or trees in the forest. Foam and concrete will be added to the surface for strength and as a weather barrier, while large sections of windows will use natural light to bolster the building’s passive solar strategy. The arched shape of the building is intended to blend into the environment while costs are kept down by using less labour than a traditional structure and economic materials.
This isn’t the first or last we’ll see of 3D building design. In Tokyo, architecture students have developed a 3D printing pen for complex architectural designs, while Dutch designer Joris Laarmen has designed a steel canal bridge in Amsterdam to be printed by industrial robots fired with advanced welding machines.
A brave new world is closer than we think. Expect WATG’s Curve Appeal to begin printing in 2017, while MX3D’s steel bridge is set to be completed in 2017.
Photos courtesy of Purple PR