Apr 6, 2017 | By Tess

Milan Design Week 2017, an event that highlights the newest and best in international design, kicked off this week in the Italian city. One piece that has grabbed our attention is a stunning installation, designed and 3D printed by one of our favorite architecture firms: Zaha Hadid Architects. The 3D printed sculpture, called “Thallus,” was inspired by its namesake, a plant that has no differentiated stem and leaves.

Zaha Hadid Architects was founded by the renowned Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid, who sadly passed away last year. Since her passing, however, her firm has continued to turn out impressive work that is deserving of her name. One of the latest projects to be unveiled by the firm is Thallus, which was created specifically for Milan Design Week 2017.

The large sculpture, which is the product of a ZHA research group’s ongoing foray into 3D printing and computational design generation, is currently on display at the Accademia di belle arti di brera in the Italian design capital.

Looking at the installation close up, it is obvious that Thallus was not created using conventional additive manufacturing techniques, as its winding pattern looks more like flowing ribbon than computer-generated design. According to ZHA, the design was created through the exploration of differential growth methods through “expansion and diffusion arising from a single continuous seed curve guided iteratively via simulation parameters while constrained to a reference surface.”

The design itself was then brought to life using a six-axis robotic 3D printing system, which continuously extruded a 7 km strip of plastic, looping it until the structure was complete. According to its creators, Thallus’ shape was tailored to a “trimmed cylinder than enables a hot-wire cutting process” which was used to create the mold of the sculpture’s base.

As mentioned, the stunning and intricate structure is the latest in ZHA’s foray into advanced manufacturing and computational design techniques and it demonstrates what the two fields can create when expertly combined.

Of course, this is not the first time that Zaha Hadid Architects has used 3D printing technologies to create stunning designs, as the firm, and indeed Hadid herself, have been recognized for a number of other projects. In 2014, for instance, ZHA and Stratasys created “The Chair,” a 3D printed, ergonomically designed chair that has since been recreated in many colors and patterns. In fact, the 3D printed chair was even featured at the Venice Biennale last year as part of the Zaha Hadid retrospective.

Hadid also has her name to a pair of striking 3D printed shoes, which were created in partnership with Ben van Berkel and exhibited by United Nudes, the avant-garde shoe brand founded by Rem D. Koolhaas, the nephew of Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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