3D-printed houses and other structures are becoming increasingly more common, but none have a creation story quite like The House of Dust, a livable structure in Wiesbaden, Germany that connects 1967 to today through the words of a poem.

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beige 3D-printed structure in a park

“The House of Dust” was initially a poem, created in 1967 by Alison Knowles and James Tenney with the aid of a Siemens 4004 computer. Knowles created word lists that describe attributes of houses. The words were then translated into Fortran computer programming language, and the computer was allowed to spit out word combinations. The resulting iteration of the poem read, “A house of dust / on open ground / lit by natural light / inhabited by friends and enemies / A house of paper / among high mountains / using natural light / inhabited by fishermen and families”.

Related: Habitat for Humanity develops its first 3D-printed home in US

machine 3D-printing a small home

One year later, the poem was turned into a physical structure in Chelsea, New York and later found new life in Cal Arts Burbank, California, where Knowles taught classes. Fast forward to 2021, and the structure was built again. Technically, it was printed — using Crane WASP technology. WASP (World’s Advanced Saving Project) is an industry leader in 3D printing, based out of Italy. With the completion of “The House of Dust”, the company said it is the “first and only temporary, livable and sustainable artwork entirely 3D printed based on natural materials.”

machine printing walls for a curved house

The use of 3D printing provides minimal site impact. While it avoids a large carbon footprint, The House of Dust does speak to a comparison between the advancing computer science of 1967 and the innovations in the 3D printing industry of 2021, both connecting humans with technology.

3D printer created curved walls of a tiny home

The project was completed in collaboration with the Museum Wiesbaden and included 50 hours of printing, 500 machine codes (G-code), 165 layers of 15 mm, 15 km of extrusion and 8 cubic meters of natural materials. Today, you can sleep inside the sculpture, which can be booked through the website tinybe.org.


Images via WASP

inside a small 3D-printed shelter with round skylight