Oct 12, 2015 | By Kira

Just recently we wrote about the VULCAN 3D printed pavilion, on showcase at Beijing Design Week (BJDW), one of China’s most significant platforms for international design. Comprised of 1023 individual 3D printed units and standing at 8.08 meters long by 2.88 meters high (25.6 x 9.5 ft), the unprecedented architectural pavilion has just been awarded the Guinness World Record for world’s largest 3D printed pavilion, and represents exciting new possibilities for future of 3D printed architecture-as-art.

Designed by architects Yu Lei and Xu Feng of Beijing’s Laboratory for Creative Design (LCD), VULCAN was named after the Latin word for volcano and the Roman god of fire. It’s voluptuous arched shape is meant to resemble the mushroom-like cloud of smoke that forms after a volcanic eruption and its enormity inspires both a sense of fear and awe in the face of nature. Despite these imposing and forceful insinuations, however, the construction itself was inspired by silkworm cocoons: the designers created the web-like filament texture that covers the entire surface after studying long-term research on the simulation of silk and cocoon production. Such an approach marks a significant departure from the traditional method of arch construction as well as a new way of applying 3D printing technology to construction. It blends the unpredictable forces of nature with its most intricate bio-designs to create a large-scale technological and architectural achievement like no other.

“In extrapolating the form from the cocoon’s biological parent body, we seek to combine the 3D printing and spatial construction processes with the activities at the Beijing International Design Week,” said the LCD team. “Vulcan represents a new reality – that modern architects are able to achieve their ideal design quality from concept to construction using digital design and fabrication methodologies. This development will increasingly blur the boundaries between technology and art.” 

The VULCAN took 30 days and 20 large-scale 3D printers to complete the 1000+ units, and 15 people for 12 days to assemble the pieces on-site. A rather large undertaking, but still a relatively short amount of time and labour for an entirely 3D printed structure of such a scale. A further architectural element unique to the VULCAN is that it can be subdivided into three identical modules, giving it the flexibility to accommodate various exhibition sites and public activity areas. During Beijing Design Week (Sept 25-Oct 7) and until now, the 3D printed pavilion is on display within the central atrium of Parkview Green, a high-tech commercial office and shopping complex that collaborated with BJDW on multiple projects and was also the first in Beijing to receive a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum level.

We are currently witnessing two simultaneous movements in 3D printing: the race to build viable, affordable, and safe 3D printed houses and emergency shelters to accommodate the Earth’s growing population; and the emergence of stunning 3D printed art and architectural designs that would not be possible to create with traditional manufacturing processes. The possibilities embodied by VULCAN, which combines architectural form and function; sustainability and flexibility; 3D printing technology and organic design all on an unprecedented, world record-breaking scale, could finally merge the two trends, and lead us towards a new future of smart and aesthetically innovative 3D printed homes. 



Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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