Architects: Smith | Allen
Location: Gualala, California, United States
Project Year: 2013
Photographs: Courtesy of Smith | Allen
From the architect. Smith|Allen participated in the Project 387 Residency, located in Mendocino Country from August 4-18, 2013. In the heart of a 150-acre redwood forest, Smith|Allen has created a site responsive, 3D printed architectural installation (the largest of it’s kind): Echoviren. The project merges architecture, art and technology to explore the dialectic between man, machine and nature. The Project 387 open house and reception was Saturday, August 17.
Spanning 10 x 10 x 8 feet, Echoviren is a translucent white enclosure, stark and artificial against the natural palette of reds and greens of the forest. Walking around and within the structure, the viewer is immediately consumed by the juxtaposition, as well as uncanny similarity, of natural and unnatural: the large oculus, open floor, and porous surface framing the surrounding coastal landscape. This artifical frame draws the viewer up from the plane of the forest, through a forced perspective into the canopy.
Echoviren was fabricated, printed, and assembled on site by the designers. Through the use of parametric architectural technologies and a battery of consumer grade Type A Machines desktop 3D printers, Smith|Allen has constructed the world’s first 3D printed, full-scale architectural installation. Made of over 500 unique individually printed parts, 7 3D Printers ran constantly for 2 months for a total of 10800 hours of machine time.
The structure was assembled though a paneled snap fit connection, merging individual components into a monolithic aggregation. From breaking ground to finish the prefab 3D printed construction technique required for only 4 days of on site building time.
Entirely composed of 3D printed plant based PLA bio-plastic, the space will decompose naturally back into the forest in 30 to 50 years. As it weathers it will become a micro-habitat for insects, moss, and birds.
A graft within the space of the forest, Echoviren is a space for contemplation of the landscape, of the natural, and our relationship with these constructs. It focuses on the essence of the forest not as a natural system, but as a palimpsest. The hybridized experience within the piece highlights the accumulated iterations of a site, hidden within contemporary landscapes.
Echoviren exposes an ecosystem of dynamic natural and unnatural interventions: the interplay of man and nature moderated by technology.