While large-scale 3D printing for architecture continues to be a busy area of research, France-based company XtreeE has been using 3D printed concrete in projects since 2015. Their latest creation is an organic truss-style support structure for a preschool playground in Aix-en-Provence.
The project for the building itself was designed by Marc Dalibard, but XtreeE executed the final design and production of the concrete column. The finished piece stands 4 meters tall and blends seamlessly with the concrete of the preschool building.
To create the structure, XtreeE programmed an industrial robot arm to extrude a special mixture of concrete to form the "envelope," or outer layer, of the organic structure. The hollow envelope was then filled with LafargeHolcim concrete and filed to remove the appearance of each printed layer, creating a smooth surface that calls to mind the twisted roots of a tree.
The structure was printed in segments at the XtreeE studio and then assembled on site. The printing process alone took over 15 hours--however, once the print program is written, it could in theory be used to produce a large number of identical concrete supports with less human labor than traditional methods.
Operation: Bâtiment équipements sportifs.
Client: Métropole d’Aix Marseille – Territoire du Pays d’Aix
Architect: Marc Dalibard Société d’Architecture
Structural engineering: Artelia
Algorithmic design: EZCT Architecture & Design Research & XtreeE
Construction company: AD Concept
Machine Files & Manufacturing of the Molds: XtreeE
Mold concrete: LafargeHolcim
UHPC Casting: Fehr Architectural
Photographs: Lisa Riciotti / XtreeE