Four architecture students in Spain have developed a robotic 3-D printer that’s designed to magically turn dirt into chairs, walls, and even full-blown bridges.
Anna Kulik, Inder Prakash, Singh Shergill, and Petr Novikov, of the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia, worked with electronic and mechanical engineers to create Stone Spray, a one-off robot that takes sand or soil, adds a special binding agent, then spews out a fully formed architectural object of the designers’ choosing. “The shape of the resulting object is created in 3-D CAD software and then transferred to the robot, defining its movements,” Novikov tells Co.Design. “So the designer has the full control of the shape.”
So far, all the prototypes--which include miniature stools and sculptures--are just 20 inches long, about the size of a newborn. “But we are planning on increasing the sizes of the objects to architectural scale,” Novikov says.
If successful, the robot could represent a big leap forward in the field of sustainable design. Growing a structure from the earth at your feet circumvents one of the most resource-intensive aspects of architecture: the construction process. Let’s just hope the binding agent on that bridge is really, really strong.
[Images courtesy of Petr Novikov]