In a bid to see what complete sustainability in building homes could possibly look like one day, a team of architectures from the Italian firm, Mario Cucinella Architects, has produced the first 3D-printed home with zero-emissions clay.
The Italian firm was inspired by the potter wasp, creating a beehive-like structure home using whatever clay is found in the area it was built. What this means is that should anything be knocked down for whatever reason, the only thing that goes to waste is gas, plumbing, and any electrical components added to the home.
For the architectural firm located in Bologna, the company explains that “the idea of the city must be challenged,” sharing that their only contender happens to be the modular-series of clay pods found in the Great Enclosure in Zimbabwe.
Aside from the wall structures, the printer squirts goop created by the international company Mapei that usually makes sealants, adhesives, and other chemical products. As seen in an article by Treehugger, they shared how they “studied the clay materials and identified the key components within the raw earth mixture to create the final highly optimized printable product.” Notably, the goop – which has added rice cultivation waste into the mix – also has some insulating value.
The method that was used to build is called TECLA, which is short for technology and clay. It was co-developed by Cucinella alongside another company named WASP, short for World’s Advanced Saving Project, which happens to specialize in 3D-printing solutions.
Similar to the traditional building methods found in the Moroccan Kasbah, their modular design uses ‘two 3D-printing arms at once in order to create two domed spaces out of 350 layers of undulating clay and rice chaff as insulation.’ The idea behind it is be totally off-grid, while the design of the house and its durability can also be changed or modified, depending on the climate and local challenges of its location.
Although Cucinella supposedly lost the chance to call the his project “circadian cupulas,” the design itself allows tons of natural light to enter through the large circular skylight and door. Then there’s another dome that’s meant to be used at night with smaller, warmer and a more enclosed setting that sits beneath a smaller sized window.
Treehugger also explains that the Cucinella architects created the cupulas to be self-sustaining eco-communities that can be built in the outskirts of urban areas or for other developing countries using WASP’s contribution of what could be considered a kind of “DIY” version to the houses.
The hope is that it can adapt to a variety of environments which will hopefully be suitable for self-production using WASP’s Maker Economy Starter Kit. That way, it can hopefully boost both the local and national economies of where they will be built.
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