A team of researchers and students from the HKU Faculty of Architecture worked with Holger Kehne of Plasma Studio to create a beautiful twisted tower out of 2,000 3D-printed terracotta bricks. Each clay brick used to create the Ceramic Constellation Pavilion was individually printed in a unique shape or size using innovative robotic technology, which prints at a faster pace than most 3D printing machines and provides incredible versatility in the building process.
The 12-foot pavilion was part of the inaugural “Robotic Architecture Series” workshop hosted by international property developer, Sino Group. All of the materials used in the project were made in the Robotics Lab at HKU’s Faculty of Architecture. By building the 3D tower the team sought to test the feasibility of robotically printed terracotta bricks. The printing process means that the clay bricks can be configured into distinct shapes and densities, adding an invaluable versatility to the design process.
The team began with about 1,500 pounds of raw terracotta clay. Using the university’s innovative robotic technology with a rapid print time of 2 or 3 minutes for each brick, it took about three weeks to print the materials. After firing the bricks in an oven at 1,877 degrees Fahrenheit, students from the HKU Department of Architecture assembled the beautiful pavilion during the ten day workshop.