Since 3D printing first emerged as a viable new technology, architects have been interested in using 3D printing to develop new building techniques, and thanks to recent advances, those dreams are now becoming a reality. Last week at the Swiss Art Awards 2013 in Basel, designers Benjamin Dillenburger and Michael Hansmeyer -- the duo behind the Digital Grotesque project -- unveiled a scale model prototype for a ridiculously ornate 3D-printed room. Dillenburger and Hansmeyer have announced that they will unveil the full-scale room next month.
The Digital Grotesque project isn’t the first example of 3D-printed architecture we’ve seen; Dutch firm DUS Architects has led the way, developing an 11.5-foot custom 3D printer that it plans to use to print an entire house. But Dillenburger’s and Hansmeyer’s Digital Grotesque project is significant because it shows the possibility of developing increasingly complex architectural shapes using 3D printers.
Dillenburger and Hansmeyer say that their design process is inspired by cell division. “We develop an algorithm that iteratively divides and transforms the initial geometry of a simple cube,” they explain. “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.”
The team designed the small space using subdivision and mesh grammars, and because of its complexity they say that the room contains 80 million surfaces. “The architectural elements of digital tectonics are microscopic: algorithms articulate millions of surfaces into forms, and printers now bind millions of grains of sand to stone,” they explain. The 1:3 scale model that they unveiled in Switzerland this week is extremely ornate, and the addition of gold leaf makes it look even flashier. The entirely enclosed, full-scale room will be unveiled on July 22.