A recent collaboration between the team of Mario Cucinella Architects (MC A) and WASP, specialists in 3D Printing in Italy, has resulted in the first 3D-printed construction of a fully natural, recyclable, and carbon-neutral material: raw earth. The circular housing prototype is called TECLA and it was built in Massa Lombarda (Ravenna, Italy) using multiple 3D printers synchronized to work at the same time.
The project takes its name from a combination of the words Technology and Clay and seeks to maximize the traditional yield of raw earth through digital fabrication. The house is made of a double dome solution that acts as structure, roof, and cladding, thus simplifying processes, minimizing resources, and reducing construction time.
Until now, 3D printing has focused on manufacturing individual parts and elements. In this case, however, Crane WASP utilizes a software capable of optimizing movements and avoiding collisions to allow two printing arms to function simultaneously. This modular and multilevel system can be configured according to each design, meaning the possibilities of this technology could extend to even more complex projects. As its developers explain, "each printing unit has a printing area of 50 square meters, making it possible to build independent living modules of any shape and in a few days".
The TECLA project, in particular, required 200 hours of printing, 7,000 machine codes (G code), 350 layers of 12 mm, 150 km of extrusion, 60 cubic meters of raw earth, and an average consumption of less than 6 kW. Inspired by the potter wasp, the prototype lays the foundations for the future creation of increasingly efficient and massive sustainable habitats, representing, according to Mario Cucinella, "a paradigm shift in the field of architecture, meeting the needs of people and finding an answer for the 'Earth' within the 'earth'. A collaboration that becomes the union between empathic architecture and the application of new technologies."