By Kimberley Mok, treehugger.com
This affordable tiny house was 3D printed using mud, rice husks and straw to create a “zero-kilometre” structure.
Building with earth is one of the oldest techniques there is, dating back thousands of years. Not surprisingly, it’s being combined with modern digital fabrication techniques such as 3D printing, in order to create eco-friendly, low-carbon structures that are also affordable.
Italian company WASP (World’s Advanced Saving Project) is one of these modern-primitive pioneers in the field of 3D printing with mud (as seen previously), creating large delta-style 3D printers that can manufacture habitable homes out of mud. Their latest project is Gaia, an affordable tiny home that’s been printed out of mud using the company’s modular printing system which uses a new “infinity 3D printer”, dubbed the Crane Wasp.
According to the company, the Crane Wasp has been developed to specifically print larger-scale structures, using materials found right on site (the company calls it “zero-kilometre” architecture). With a print diameter of about 6.6 metres (21.6 feet) in diameter by 3 metres (9.8 feet) in height, the Crane Wasp is easy to assemble and disassemble, and more than one can be set up in a modular way by adding more traverses and printer arms in order to print a larger structures or a whole village of structures, if need be. This modular printing approach gets around the problem of needed massive printers to print larger buildings, the company explains:
It is not necessary to ‘cover’ the entire area involved in the construction with the printing area of the WASP Cranes because they can be reconfigured and can advance with generative attitude depending on the growth and shape of the building. More WASP Cranes, when working together, have a potentially infinite printing area and can be set by the on-site operators following the evolution of the architectural project.
Employing passive solar heating strategies and natural ventilation, this particular demonstration project was printed in ten days out of locally sourced soil, rice husks and straw, and cost only USD $1,035 for the extra windows, doors, thermo-acoustic insulation, fixtures and protective coatings:
For the realisation of Gaia, Wasp worked with RiceHouse, an organisation which focuses on the enhancement of waste from rice cultivation. It supplied the vegetable fibres through which a compound was developed comprising of 25 per cent of soil (30 per cent clay, 40 per cent silt and 30 per cent sand), taken from the site, 40 per cent from straw chopped rice, 25 per cent rice husk and 10 per cent hydraulic lime. The mixture has been mixed through the use of a [miller], able to make the mixture homogeneous and workable.
The company’s long-term goal is to 3D print a whole “technological village,” a project that it’s already underway, debuting back in 2016 under the banner of Shamballa. Located in Massa Lombarda, Italy, the village will function self-sufficiently in a circular economy, where residents will grow their own food and make their own products, tools and furniture — using 3D printing, of course. To find out more, visit Shamballa and WASP.