The 2019 Open Thesis Fabrication (OTF) research aims at achieving a sustainable and structurally stable construction system using km-0 robotic additive manufacturing. Building Architecture Continuity employs continuous printing and cantilever geometries to enhance the structural capacities and spatial qualities of its expected results.

The tools employed in the project consist of a combination of computational methods, robotic manufacturing, custom made material solutions and performance-based design. During the six-month exploration, the research has produce several scaled models and a final construction of a complex design, printed in different scales and materials.

The design process of the final prototypes followed a path from abstraction to specificity. Based on the structural research conducted before the finalisation of this step, seven modules of various qualities were produced. This modules acted as the connecting pieces between the abstract design and the technicalities of the new technology. They were combined, manipulated, twisted and deformed in order to create spatial solutions in the form of series of rooms and single architectural elements, such as stairs, openings and columns.

Based on our surface geometry catalogue, OTF students selected as their design basis seven modules that have the same tangency but different degree of curvature and shape. The tangency allowed them to connect the modules seamlessly, and forming a series of architectural elements such as walls, columns, rooms, and opening. These moments, each with its specific functions and spatial qualities expand into an endless city carpet that has no boundaries.

From the endless carpet, one house is extracted. The main design focus is blurring the distinction between the interior and exterior, creating a smooth transition between the ground and first level, also between the horizontal and vertical direction. Surfaces fold in and out to create openings and guides the way of circulation.

For the abstract house to become 3D printable with clay, volume and infill are added according to structural stability and functional purposes. It has the potential to create a new kind of spatial experience.

3D Printing Architecture
3D Printing Architecture

Inspired from the endless house, OTF students rethought our current building system by selecting several connection elements, such as arch opening, staircase, and integrating them into a continuous surface – created with space in one go.

After an intensive design phase they decided to start prototyping at different scales, to understand how the design and geometry work with different materials and different printing technologies. The first testing was on a basic PLA-extrusion 3D printer to test the aesthetic value of the geometry and design. For the same they created a custom 3D-slicer to mimic the printing process that would take place on a larger-scale machine. The next stage of the prototyping was at a 1:10 scale to start understanding and testing the geometry with similar material in industrial clay.

From the knowledge gained at different scales, they shifted their attention to the 1:3 scale to get a better understanding of spatial and functional qualities. The final result of this scale gives an understanding of spatial and functional qualities together with insight about how the logistics would work for such kind of advanced technology.

Building Architecture Continuity

After all the tests and prototypes at different scale, OTF students could shift to the 1:1 scale model in collaboration with WASP in Italy. There they worked with the km-0 material available which was the Rice house material they used for their GAIA project.

Working on different scales with different materials gave them a deeper understanding of how 3D printing at large-scales changed with different machines. Also the design has to be adapted for every scale not only to make up for change in machinery but also because of material change on every scale.

Building Architecture Continuity succeed to demonstrate the language and style of large-scale 3D printing with a full scale prototype in Italy and two scaled prototype in Barcelona. This shows us that the near future of architecture and construction could be a bright one with the use of advanced construction techniques in combination with materials from our past.


OTF Research Credits :

This project is a research of the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC), developed within the Open Thesis Fabrication (OTF) program 2018-19, in collaboration with WASP, UN-Habitat, Windmill, La Salle and Rice House.

Students : Ozgur Cengiz, Yuchen Chen, Ipsita Datta, Yingxin Du, Ashkan Foroughi, Pavlina Kriki, Yi Fan Liao, Bhakti Vinod Loonawat, Shahram C. Randeria, Payam Salehi Nejad, Nusrat Tabassum

Faculty : Alexandre Dubor, Edouard Cabay, Joaquim Melchor, Kunaljit Chadha

Faculty assistant : Eugenio Bettucchi, Sheikh Riaz, Armin Akbari, Ya-Chieh Chang

Collaborators : Lapo Naldoni, Alberto Chiusoli, Massimo Visonà and Francesco De Fabritiis (WASP), Josep Ramon Sole and Joal Juanpere (Windmill), Runze Wang (Un-Habitat), Nadia Soledad and Gloria Font (LaSalle)