Astonishing 3D-Printed Room Designed by Computer Algorithms

First Posted: Sep 26, 2013 04:57 PM EDT

The world’s first 3D printed human-scale structure seen here was designed and created by architects Michael Hansmeyer and Benjamin Dillenburger out of plain sand. They call their design “Digital Grotesque.” The most astonishing feature of the room – 16 square meters and 3.2 meters high – is probably that custom-designed algorithms composed every aspect of the architecture, which exhibits a staggering 260 million surfaces.

Plastic is the most common material for 3D-printed pieces, but this entire room – including its numerous eye-catching details – is made of fine-grained sand. Hansmeyer and Dillenburger used a binding material to create large chunks of the room (up to 4 meters tall by 1 meter wide by 2 meters deep).

The architects, who both focus on developing computational design in architecture at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETHZ), began with an overarching model, but used algorithms that let computers randomly design the room. Overall, the room took a year to design, one month to print, and one day to assemble, all in Zurich, Switzerland.

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