FROM THE ARCHITECTS:
The 3D printer, a machine which has long been characterized as characterless due to having little to no constraints, is in f¬act highly distinctive. The Additive Architectural Elements project aims to reveal the 3D printer’s own and highly idiosyncratic architectural tectonics and narratives. Choosing common-place prototypical architectural motifs such as floors, columns, doors, windows, walls, and ceilings we developed strategies as to how the layering of concrete, the relentless three-dimensional drawing of extruded lines of material, and the act of corbelling can suggest new strategies for building. Our question is: what is the architecture of 3D printed concrete?
The A New Robotic Brutalism – Additive Architectural Elements project investigates prototypical methods for 3D printing at the building component scale in ground-up layered assemblies. The research aims to develop architectural strategies for use in current industrial scale 3D printing processes - the assumption being that technology will eventually evolve to include multi-material printing, non-layered printing, or printing on site among others. However, rather than further focusing on the technical advancement of 3D printing technology, this project operates consciously within the status-quo, researching a paradigm-shift that has already occurred but never fully and consequentially been explored architecturally: the 3D printing of buildings with concrete.
In a 3D printed structure, all common architectural motifs and building components must be re-thought to fit the logic of layered construction. For example, a concrete printer cannot print in midair; therefore, the otherwise simple exercise of making a rectilinear window opening becomes de facto an impossibility. Rather than drastically altering the process (stopping the machine to insert a beam), we believe that shortcomings become opportunities for design: as the printer can incrementally cantilever, one possible logical consequence is for the window to become a triangular corbelled arch.
Seemingly advanced technology unexpectedly enables narratives that connect to obsolete or archaic structural strategies such as corbelling. Other strategies deployed in the manipulation of form are the modification of printing direction (printing upside-down or printing in section) to overcome printer deficiencies, g-code manipulation for smart material deposit, or alterations of geometries for structural reasons related to the fabrication process.
In a series of seven full scale 3D printed concrete prototypes, forty-nine 3D printed PLA models, seven proto-architectures 3D printed from PLA, ninety-eight element drawings, and one-hundred-ninety-six photographs, the A New Robotic Brutalism – Additive Architectural Elements project explores the architecture of 3D printed concrete within Mushroom Columns, Force Columns, Smart Poche Walls, Ceilings, Floornaments, Doornaments, and Corb. Windows.