Sofoklis Giannakopoulos, a researcher at the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC), has designed Pylos, a 3D printer that utilizes a natural, biodegradable, cheap, recyclable and local material that everyone is familiar with: the earth.
In an effort to make 3D printing a “large scale construction approach” even in years of economic and environmental turmoil, Pylos explores the structural potential of soil, a material that has been widely used in vernacular architecture around the world, and particularly in the Global South.
Learn more about the printer after the break.
In addition to the economic and environmental benefits of soil, the material also offers numerous construction benefits, including “natural insulation, fire protection, air circulation, low first cost, 100% recyclable structures, stiffness, great strength, thermal flywheel effect, low green house emissions, regulating the climate and providing a healthy Indoor environment."
In preliminary tests using Pylos, soil (96%) was mixed with additives and other elements (4%), resulting in a material that has “three times higher tensile strength” compared to industrial hard clay.
And while construction with soil isn’t anything new, its true potential lies in overcoming the many challenges that will come with its massification. Among these challenges are adapting and scaling vernacular building techniques; improving structural reinforcements and adobe mixtures; and strengthening adobe houses built in seismic areas.
“Soil can be recycled an indefinite number of times over an extremely long period," states Giannakopoulos. In addition, “old dry loam can be reused after soaking in water, so loam never becomes a waste material that harms the environment."
Learn more about the project here.