May 13, 2015 | By Simon

Although we consistently hear about the benefits of 3D printing in terms of its benefits for the medical industry or for allowing consumers to fabricate their own goods in their own home, one of the more overlooked uses for the technology has been in creating architectural facades or installations for both interior and exterior structures - many of which have been created using generative design methods and would be difficult to fabricate using traditional manufacturing methods.  

A recent example of how 3D printing has aided in the development of an interior facade installation was recently completed by London-based architecture firm Urban Systems, which is led by partners Jeroen van Ameijde and Brendon Carlin.  The duo created an installation that was featured in the RIBA Shanghai 2015 Windows Project which is currently on display in Xintiandi - which is also known as the premiere fashion, art and shopping destination in Shanghai.  

The RIBA Shanghai Windows Project is an event that combines RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) with both international and upcoming Chinese fashion brands located in Xintiandi.  

As for Urban Systems, their objective for the event was for the to create an architectural installation based around utilizing additive manufacturing technologies.  Event sponsor PrintME 3D provided the architects with their Bq Witbox 3D printers for fabricating the final design.    

After working alongside their retail partner Ph7, the architects ended up with an installation that they are calling ‘Urban Nature’, which is designed to help visualize the dynamic and fluid nature of the urban environment.  To achieve their final design direction, the architects started with PH7’s design ethos - which centers around the forces of nature - and built their concept off of that.   

To create a 3D model, the architects further developed their concept in Spaceclaim until a final, manufacturable assembly was completed.  The final size of the installation is approximately three meters wide and three meters tall with a weight of approx 300 Kg.  To print the giant structure, the architects used six Bq Wibox 3D printers over a two-month period using PLA filament.  In total, 40 spools were used to fabricate the final structure.  

The final installation - which is called "Urban Nature" - is “designed to achieve its internal variations through a small number of different components, limiting the number of customised pieces and reducing the complexity and challenges of the assembly process,” said PrintME 3D.

For those in Shanghai, this 3D printed installation just might be worth checking out in-person if you are able!

Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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Desislava Dobreva wrote at 1/5/2016 1:31:53 PM:

I absolutely agree that, unfortunately, very often 3D printing has been overlooked when it comes to architecture! It's surprising, given the large number of advantages it brings, especially for architectural models. I don't think there's a better way than 3D printing a model to convey the final appearance of the design you're working on.

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