Thursday, September 29, 2016

Mini-Review of French Architectural 3D Printing Project

The picture included above caught my eye the other day: It’s a detail of an architecturally 3D printed project in France by Zurich-based LafargeHolcim and start up XtreeE. (I’ve previously done some architectural 3D printing research with Lafarge Canada when I was at SAIT.) The structure was produced for a kindergarten. If only Canadian school children were so lucky to have such forward thinking planners of educational spaces; alas, Canada rarely has the political will to create high-design, high-concept public buildings. In any case, returning to picture, it shows something very unique about the characteristics of architecturally 3D printed structures, namely, the similarities between architecturally 3D printed forms and organic forms. Architecturally 3D printed structures can be carefully engineered to optimize material – cutting away area that don’t transfer any internal forces – leaving the sort of organic form seen in the image. It’s incredible to think that state-of-the-art materials engineering, applied through architectural 3D printing, results in forms Nature already discovered, but also suggests the method might be on the right track to gaining new efficiencies. Another thing I really like about this sort of solid material engineering is that it's just so bloody difficult to do. Off the top of my head I think only the mighty @Arupgroup could take up the task at the drop of a hat. Though obviously the research arm of LafargeHolcim is not lacking engineering talent. 

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