Although 3D printing promises a revolution in many industries, primarily industrial manufacturing, nowhere are the possibilities greater than in the field of product design and modular architecture. Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello, of the cutting-edge San Francisco Bay Area-based design firm Emerging Objects, have developed remarkable techniques for printing architecture from a wide variety of powders.
Sawdust, clay, cement, rubber, concrete, salt, and even coffee grounds are opening an entire realm of material, phenomenological, and ecological possibilities to designers. In addition to case studies and illustrations of their own work, Rael and San Fratello offer guidance for sourcing alternative materials, specific recipes for mixing compounds, and step-by-step instructions for conducting bench tests and setting parameters for material testing, to help readers understand the process of developing powder-based materials and their unique qualities.
“Thought-provoking research that makes you question your assumptions about 3D printing and architecture”
Jessica Rosenkrantz, Cofounder and Creative Director, Nervous System
Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello are professors at University of California, Berkeley, and San Jose State University, respectively. Their firm, Emerging Objects, has been instrumental in developing new materials for powder-based 3D printing. Rael is the author of Earth Architecture and Borderwall as Architecture.
In the rapidly evolving world of construction 3D printing, California based Emerging Objects stands out both as a pioneer and as the only company that approached 3D printing from a modular, “3D printed bricks and tiles” point of view. Its latest project, the 3D Printed Cabin of Curiosities, sums up much of the company’s research so far.
The Cabin of Curiosities is exemplary of Emerging Objects’ work, which dives deep into the material science of additive manufacturing while often utilizing open-source tools and standard off-the-shelf printers.
“Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello are brilliant alchemists and architects, who are rethinking the building process from the bottom up. The results are sensuous, inventive, and sustainable. This book takes you inside their extraordinary process.”
Ellen Lupton, Senior Curator of Contemporary Design, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
In an earlier interview with 3D Printing Media Network, Rael explained that Emerging Objects doesn’t think about 3D printing as an ideal production method for its work. They see it as a fascinating production method. The work is a byproduct of the du0’s fascination with the method. Their interests in materials have allowed us to challenge the production method, and transform to generate new possibilities.
“Printing Architecture impressively demonstrates how 3D printing has fast become an essential ingredient in contemporary design and building culture. Virginia San Fratello and Ronald Rael uncover the sublime beauty of the abundant materials our world is made out of and will be printed from in the future, grain by grain”
Matthias Kohler, Architect, Gramazio Kohler Research, ETH Zurich