Printsugi. Matter as met, matter as printed

Dr. Nadja Gaudillière-Jami & Dipl. Des. Max Eschenbach Digital Design Unit, Technical University Darmstadt


As part of the Printsugi research project lead by DDU, Nadja Gaudillière-Jami and Max Eschenbach are showcasing the Rock Tower prototype at the Tin Sheds Gallery in Sydney, as part of the SHE Robots: Tool, Toy & Companion exhibition, curated by Dr Dagmar Reinhardt, Dr Lian Loke, Dr Deborah Turnbull-Tillman (University of Sydney), from the 20th of October to the 10th of December 2022. They will be presenting the project and participating in a hybrid panel talk on the 27th of October 2022 at 10:00 (CET).

Our research proposes to leverage 3D-printing and computational design strategies to use matter as met, i.e matter as found on site, in building processes. Combined to a design method enabling disassembly and reassembly, this approach enables less transformation of the materials used and thus less energy consumption. It also renders possible the use of resources without a brutal extraction process, as well as a focus on materials that are locally available.

We propose a design workflow in answer to these requirements. This workflow starts with testing raw earth available on the site in order to devise a recipe for the raw earth to be 3D-printed. Then comes the collection, sorting and 3D-scanning of other types of materials available on site, such as logs and stones. The resort to a computational design process enables placing these materials in the most relevant place within the shape that is to be constructed, and modeling connectors to link these pieces together. The connectors are then printed by using the recipe devised. To print the pieces, a low-cost 3D-printer is to be used on site or near, in order to remain as local as possible. As the connectors are to be only components of the structure, they are of small scale and the 3D-printer can thus have a relatively small printing area as well. Finally, the structure is assembled by bringing together connectors and materials.

The rock tower presented is the first prototype demonstrating this process and its potential for sustainable architecture.