Four architecture students in Spain developed a robotic 3-D printer that sprays dirt and sand into fully formed chairs, walls, and even bridges.

Stone Spray was developed by four students at the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia--Anna Kulik, Inder Prakash, Singh Shergill, and Petr Novikov--working with electronic and mechanical engineers.

The prototypes are pretty small--about 20 inches long. They include sculptures and mini stools.

“We are planning on increasing the sizes of the objects to architectural scale,” Novikov says.

The hope is that the robot will be used to create large 3-D objects and even complete buildings.

A prototype.

By building structures out of the earth in the ground, the robot helps tackle one of the biggest problems in architecture: the wasteful construction process.

Co.Design

A Robot That Prints Buildings Out Of Sand And Soil

Why build a house, when you can print one?

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]

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4 Comments

  • Glasspaper

    Surely it is bogus to claim this making process is "a big leap forward in the field of sustainable design" Where do those binders essential to the process come from? And on an engineering level it is a massive use of materials to create structure that can be created much more efficiently otherwise. A lame use of technology to produce something so crude.

  • Nick Barfuss

    I saw a video by Jacque Fresco commenting on this very practice. There are so many benefits of this futuristic technology. Let's all support building houses with 3D printers.