Architects Michael Hansmeyer and Benjamin Dillenburger unveiled their latest 3D-printed masterpiece—a full-scale ornamental grotto. Crafted with intricate baroque-like detail like its predecessor, the Digital Grotesque II shows off the power of digital fabrication in its transformation of 1.3 billion digital surfaces into seven tons of printed sandstone. The stunning 3D-printed recently made its premier at the Centre Pompidou’s ‘Imprimer le monde’ exhibition in Paris.



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Commissioned by Centre Pompidou for their permanent collection, the Digital Grotesque II is larger than its predecessor and took two years to develop, one month to print, and just two days to assemble the seven tons of printed sandstone. Every part of the grotto’s architecture was generated through customized algorithms without any need for manual tinkering.

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The architects write: “The grotto is entirely designed by algorithms, and optimized to present highly differentiated geometries that forge a rich and stimulating spatial experience for the observer. A subdivision algorithm exploits the 3D printer’s full potential by creating porous, multi-layered structures with spatial depth. A single volume spawns millions of branches, growing and folding into a complex topological structure. Hundreds of square meters of surface are compressed into a 3.5 meter high block that forms an organic landscape between the man-made and the natural.”

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Related: The World’s First 3D Printed Room is a Mind-Boggling Baroque Interior

The overwhelmingly intricate grotto appears both organic and synthetic. Hansmeyer and Dillenburger did not draw on inspiration from nature or existing styles when they programmed the algorithms that determined the design, though many parts of the grotto look as if they could belong in a baroque facade or a natural cave. The grotto stands at 3.45 meters in height and is made from sand-printed elements including silicate and binder.

+ Digital Grotesque

Images © Fabrice Dall’Anese, Michael Lyrenmann, Demetris Shammas, Jann Erhard, and Michael Hansmeyer

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Digital Grotesque II by Michael Hansmeyer and Benjamin Dillenburger, Centre Pompidou, Digital Grotesque II in Centre Pompidou, 3d printed grotto, 3d printing in architecture, 3d printed Digital Grotesque II , 3d printed sandstone

Digital Grotesque II by Michael Hansmeyer and Benjamin Dillenburger, Centre Pompidou, Digital Grotesque II in Centre Pompidou, 3d printed grotto, 3d printing in architecture, 3d printed Digital Grotesque II , 3d printed sandstone

Digital Grotesque II by Michael Hansmeyer and Benjamin Dillenburger, Centre Pompidou, Digital Grotesque II in Centre Pompidou, 3d printed grotto, 3d printing in architecture, 3d printed Digital Grotesque II , 3d printed sandstone