Digital Grotesque

For several years now, architect Michael Hansmeyer has been developing what has been called the "world’s most complex architecture."

Digital Grotesque

Unlike most buildings, which consist of relatively few surfaces, Hansmeyer’s projects make use of millions of polygonal faces.

Digital Grotesque

Previously, Hansmeyer prototyped laser-cut cardboard and styrofoam columns whose forms were too complex for any 3-D printer to handle.

Digital Grotesque

That was then. Now, Hansmeyer, working with Benjamin Dillenburger, has unveiled the first 3-D printed prototypes of his "computational architecture."

Digital Grotesque

"Digital Grotesque" is a new installation that will consist of an entirely 3-D printed room featuring Hansmeyer’s highly ornamental columns and walls.

Digital Grotesque

Recently, Hansmeyer and Dillenburger, revealed a scale mockup of the room, which comprises 80 million individual surfaces.

Digital Grotesque

The model as printed out of sandstone using a high-resolution 3-D printer.

Digital Grotesque

Before being cleaned and sanded.

Digital Grotesque

Then it was glazed…

Digital Grotesque

…and guilded. The model offers a sneak peek of the full-scale installation, which will open July 22.

Co.Design

Baroque On Steroids? The World's First 3-D Printed Room To Become A Reality

Architects Michael Hansmeyer and Benjamin Dillenburger designed a Baroque room with 80 million surfaces.

Michael Hansmeyer, who is known for using algorithms and computation to generate incredibly complex architecture, is finally ready to build (print) it. This summer, Hansmeyer, in collaboration with project partner Benjamin Dillenburger, will assemble a fully enclosed architectural folly whose highly wrought parts will all be 3-D printed.

Hansmeyer and Dillenburger recently previewed a 1:3 scale prototype of the room at the Materializing Exhibition in Tokyo and Basel’s Swiss Art Awards. The design of the spaces, which blend intricately detailed columns with other finely sculptural and nonstructural elements, can be described as Baroque on steroids.

Digital Grotesque represents a major development for Hansmeyer, who describes his designs as “computational architecture.” His previous series of cardboard and Styrofoam columns all included forms that he defined using algorithmic processes. As he told Co.Design in 2011, “Every 3-D printing facility we spoke to turned us down." The printers, evidently, couldn’t handle the complexity of the columns, with their 16 million polygonal faces.

Well, that was then. This time, Hansmeyer found a printer that could articulate the Giger-esque surrealist forms. In total, the room has 80 million surfaces that will be rendered in smooth sandstone. Like the prototype, the parts will be glazed and gilded, a nod to the design’s Baroque influences.

Despite the extravagant, mind-addling details, Hansmeyer and Dillenburger insist that the forms are generated using a “reduced, minimalist” protocol. They write:

“Inspired by the natural process of cell division, we develop an algorithm that iteratively divides and transforms the initial geometry of a simple cube. Despite simple rules, a complex world of forms arises at multiple scales.”

The designers say that the printed room will navigate between “ornament and structure,” making it, very literally, a digital grotesque.

The full-scale installation opens July 22.

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