Innovation That Matters

The TECLA is designed for off-grid living | Photo source Mario Cucinella Architects

A 3D-printed house made of clay

Architecture & Design

A prototype house uses large, synchronised 3D printers and local clay to create an eco-friendly structure

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Spotted: 3D printing is taking off in a big way, including in architecture, where it is being used to print entire houses. Now, Italian architecture studio Mario Cucinella Architects has collaborated with WASP, which specialises in large-scale 3D printing, to produce an experimental printed house made entirely of earth.

The house, called TECLA (from technology and clay) was printed in 200 hours using multiple 3D printers, all operating at the same time. The project uses a prototype system called Crane WASP, in which two printing arms are synchronised using software to optimise the arms’ movements, in order to avoid collisions. The house is constructed from local soil, which is extruded from the printer.

The TECLA house is designed to be not only eco-friendly but also entirely off-grid. The house is made up of two domes and includes an open-plan living area, a bedroom space. Outside, a pond collects rainwater to be reused for the garden, and the building is powered using solar cells. 

The project is designed to demonstrate a circular model of housing, created entirely from reusable and recyclable materials, and sourced locally and adaptable to a variety of contexts and climates. The goal, according to Mario Cucinella, founder of Mario Cucinella Architects, is to create, “a habitat that responds to the increasingly urgent climate revolution and the needs of changes dictated by community needs.” He adds: “We need a paradigm shift in the field of architecture that gets closer to the needs of people, thus finding an answer for the ‘Earth’ within the ‘earth’.”

At Springwise, we have seen 3D printing used for a host of innovative construction projects. Recently-printed structures include a 3D-printed school that delivers education where it is needed and an entire 3D-printed community that provides housing for unsheltered families.

Written By: Lisa Magloff

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