May 7, 2015 | By Simon

Usually when the terms “additive manufacturing” and “architecture” go together, they are often in the context of creating a scale model of a building concept or urban planning design before it is put into a costly building phase.  While other methods of prototyping and communicating design intent have involved more manual hand methods including balsa wood, paper and foam core materials that are often cut with hobby knives and glued together, 3D printers have allowed architects to communicate their vision of a design much more accurately and quickly.  

But what if 3D printing could be used to bring a larger, already existing building, urban development or city layout into a smaller context for curious minds to explore with a birds-eye view?

Last year, we saw how an exhibition in Russia featured a 3D printed scale model of St. Petersburg that was made at a cost of an estimated $5 million (€3.27 million) and contained 25,000 individual characters, 1,000 buildings, 305 metres (1,000 feet) of roads and 20 tons of water in one large assembled display from 3D printed parts.  

Perhaps inspired by the St. Petersburg model, architects and political leaders from the Republic of Moldova have confirmed that they will be building a 3D printed 400 square-meter installation of the Replica Of Chisinau - the capital city of Moldova.  Once completed, the assembled installation will be placed in a busy tourist area of Chisinau and covered with glass blocks that will allow for the public to freely walk over the 3D printed model.    

An example of a 3D printed building

Additionally, the designers and local government have decided to install thousands of LED lights in the 3D printed model to ensure that not only will the 3D printed city be a sight to behold during the day, but at night as well.  

In addition to the 3D printed city, faculty from the architecture program at the nearby Technical University of Moldova will also be developing a touchscreen kiosk to coincide with the 3D printed display.  The kiosk will help communicate the rich history of the city and culture to both locals and tourists alike in a modern, 21st century user experience.   

While the estimated project completion date and cost are unknown at this time, it’s safe to to say that between creating accurate 3D models of the city’s buildings and ensuring that all of the 3D prints are done at a high-level of quality, this is surely one of the largest and most involved 3D printing-related projects we’ve heard about in awhile.


Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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