3D printing technology is quickly emerging as a technology that could be applied at the scale of the built environment. But could we use 3D printed materials to create engaging urban spaces that are constantly changing? Creative communications agency, The Neighbourhood, has imagined speculative architecture based on 3D printed materials.
The agency works with architects, developers, and placemakers to challenge conventional notions of habitation in urban environments and reveal alternatives through a series of computer-generated images. In this project, the Manchester-based firm used a derelict urban space in close proximity to their studio as the site of their speculative intervention. Creative director, John Humphreys says, “The project is about looking for opportunities to transform the lost and unloved urban spaces in our cities by imagining a different future for them. To create new ideas which might be defined by temporary uses, new technologies and transient stories as much as the permanence of bricks and mortar.”
Inspired by the growing trend for 3D printing with recycled materials, 3D artists Brett Fisher and Ryan groves designed an “alternative building” for interstitial urban spaces. Head of Story, Michelle Collier says, “The potential offered in 3D printing buildings is really interesting. Could 3D printing allow you to continually change the fabric of a building in a sustainable way? Could you add and remove features at will, to create a type of building in which evolution and change is an intrinsic property?”
The speculative structure is made up of stacked 3D printed pods and suggests a construction technology that is semi-permanent and constantly malleable. Images reveal a variety of interior and exterior spatial qualities, with the structure allowing for private enclosures as well as outdoor spaces open to light and air.
Functioning as a multipurpose space, it could be adapted to fit the changing needs of our modern cities. Possible uses include a temporary living place for visitors, a dynamic site for urban gardeners, or a space for group and community gatherings. As 3D printing technology continues to proliferate, speculative designs such as this could provide a framework for the material to be incorporated into previously uninhabitable voids in the urban fabric.