BY: ELIJAH BASSETT
With the growing popularity of 3D printing lately, it was only a matter of time before someone tried something crazy. But the crazy part here is that they actually succeeded. In Madrid, architects and engineers from the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC) recently managed to print out an entire bridge, and it bodes well for the growing field of 3D-printed architecture.
The 40-foot long bridge stands in a park in a city called Alcobendas, south of Madrid, and it is totally open to the public. The IAAC says the bridge “responds to the challenges posed by the legislation,” and attributes its structural integrity to its design, which let them “reflect the complexities of nature’s forms.” It also allowed them to “optimize the distribution of materials and minimize the amount of waste by recycling the raw material during manufacture.”
The result is a piece of architecture that almost looks like something out of science fiction. But although the IAAC made the first ever 3D printed bridge, they aren’t the only people driving progress in the field of 3D-printed architecture. One of their collaborators, Enrico Dini, has also built a name for himself by creating a prototype for a printer that can build houses.
The printer, called D-shape, binds sand together to make stone in whatever shape is required by the project. According to Shapeways, the materials to make the stone cost more than concrete would, but the reduced manual labour makes up for it, not to mention the CO2 emissions prevented by not making actual concrete.
Although this technology obviously hasn’t been widely embraced by the mainstream yet, every time people like Enrico Dini or the IAAC demonstrate its potential for both artistic and practical pursuits, we get closer to a radical shift in the way we see architecture.