Italian sculptors move over: Prototype unveiled for world’s first 3D-printed room

Michael Hansmeyer and Benjamin Dillenburger unveil prototype for world’s first 3D-printed room as a 1:3 model to be exhibited in Basel and Tokyo.


Named Digital Grotesque and due to be unveiled on 22 July, the full-scale ornate room by Michael Hansmeyer and Benjamin Dillenburger will have 80 million surfaces rendered in smooth sandstone, with certain parts glazed and gilded. A 1:3 scale prototype of the room was shown at the Swiss Arts Awards 2013 in Basel and at the Materializing Exhibition in Tokyo.


Generated using 3D-modelling software, the room will be constructed from grains of sand bonded together to create a new type of sandstone that’s capable of achieving the intricate form.


Despite the ornate style of the room, Hansmeyer says they are exploring “new potentials of digital design by using a reduced, minimalist approach that nonetheless transcends rationality.”


“Inspired by the natural process of cell division, we develop an algorithm that iteratively divides and transforms the initial geometry of a simple cube,” they continue. “Despite simple rules, a complex world of forms arises at multiple scales: between ornament and structure, between order and chaos, foreign and yet familiar: a digital grotesque.”


In a TEDTalk last year, Hansmeyer explained how he uses algorithms to replicate nature’s morphogenesis process of creation, the splitting of one cell into two cells, which leads him to create forms with millions of facets. “No person could draft them by hand, but they’re buildable,” he said. “They could revolutionise the way we think of architectural form.”


Other structures that have already been printed in sandstone include arobotic 3D printer that builds shelters on the beach and a three-metre-highpavilion resembling a giant egg with large holes in its surface, which was created by Enrico Dini and Andrea Morgante in 2009. Recognised as the first-ever printed architectural structure, it was intended as a scale model of a 10-metre structure that was never built.


Meanwhile the race to build the world’s first 3D-printed house continues, with the top contenders being Universe Architecture’s looping two-storey house that resembles a Möbius strip, DUS Architects plan to 3D-print a canal house room-by-room in the centre of Amsterdam and Softkill Design’s Protohouse 2.0 with a fibrous structure resembling bone growth.

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