The Bulletin

3D houses "grown" like bones

Posting in Architecture

Softkill has developed a 3D printing technique for large scale construction which mimics the growth process of bones.

A London-based team of architects and designers at studio Softkill have been researching new methods of generative design for additive manufacturing. In other words, this is the shape 3D printing could eventually take in the future -- literally.

A new concept design called Protohome was presented at last week's 3D Printshow. Taking the more "traditional" method of 3D construction and turning it on its head, the team tested how large-scale 3D printing could be made lighter, more flexible and created without the need for adhesives.

The result? A computer algorithm which transforms printed material into fibrous pieces that can be "grown" and twisted in the same way that human bone builds -- reinforcing stress-prone areas to keep breaks to a minimum. This creates a "web" of material rather than solid mass, but does mean the material is permeable. Therefore, waterproof coating is placed inside.

Displaying a 3D printed house at 1.33 scale, each fiber that winds through one continuous cantilevered structure has a 0.7mm radius. A house built at scale would require 31 separate pieces to construct. The team says that the:

"Softkill house moves away from heavy, compression-based 3D printing of on-site buildings, instead proposing lightweight, high resolution, optimised structures which, at life scale, are manageable truck-sized pieces that can be printed off site and later assembled on site."

Aaron Silver of Softkill Design told Dezeen that 3D printing could result in cheaper builds which require less material to construct. “I think there really is an interesting future for architecture and 3D printing,” he said, “You have great cost savings, material efficiency, things like that, which architects are vastly interested in.”

This research was founded at the Architectural Association School of Architecture's Design Research Lab, and research prototypes were supported by Materialise.

Image credit: Softkill


— By on November 4, 2012, 6:47 PM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure