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3D-Druck, Tecla, Mario Cucinella Architects

Mother Earth in 3D Printing: TECLA Experimental Building by Mario Cucinella Architects and WASP

It took around 200 working hours, or rather printing hours, before they were standing: the two domes of the TECLA experimental building may well be the world’s first structures to be created using a 3D printing process and locally excavated materials. The unusual construction by Mario Cucinella Architects stands in a technology park in Massa Lombarda, which is located on the Adriatic coast of Italy, next to the headquarters of WASP, the 3D printer specialists behind the technology for creating the building’s shell.

TECLA − a portmanteau of the English words technology and clay − was conceived as a prototype for sustainable housing which, according to the architects, could be built anywhere in the world. Certainly, it requires a 3D printer, someone to operate the equipment and someone to carry out soil analyses, but the architects point out that most of the work could be done by local labour. The mixture of materials for the domes comprises earth, chopped straw, rice husks, chalk as a binding agent, and water. Some of the hollow spaces inside the wall are also filled with rice husks to provide better insulation. To build the domes, two printers mounted on craneways worked concurrently. This represented an additional challenge for the programmers, as the machines should not cross each other’s paths. The dome shape results from the fact that the earth mixture can be subjected to compression, but not to bending. Furthermore, each dome should be as monolithic as possible − from the floor to the central oculus − without any wooden subconstruction. The interior work of the experimental building is slated to begin, and the project partners hope to have completed it in spring. After that, TECLA will be used as a sort of showroom for the low-tech 3D printing process used here.

Further planning partners: Frassinago, Milan Ingegneria, Lucifero’s, Mapei,
Product and material suppliers: Rice House, Primat, Capoferri, Imola Legno, Saib, Orange Fiber, Office Tamborrino


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