In the past, we have often seen ambitious conceptual ideas for 3D printed buildings – even skyscrapers – draw much hype but never see the light. This is no longer the case. The recent concept of a floating 3D printed concrete house has already begun construction, now a new concept for 3D printed observation tower – named Supernatural Concre(a)tion may follow suit, as the project from Dubai-based studio Nyxo is actually a blueprint that covers every detail.
The tower is designed to be built with architectural 3D printing. The printing is not done on location. And this is a key element to address: just like with traditional 3D printing, the idea of producing full constructions on-location in a fully distributed approach is the ultimate goal of 3D printing. However, the technology has proven to offer significant cost, geometry and sustainability benefits even if large segments are printed in a facility and then assembled. This is where we are now, technologically speaking, and this is what Nyxo studio is using.
The tower is divided into 2.5-meter portions printed in 2 cm shells. The components are printed in the factory by a 6-axis industrial robot under controlled conditions. Subsequently, the shells are moved to the building site and overlapped, in a very fast and lean process, with less workforce employment compared to traditional techniques. Finally, the structure is unified through a poured concrete in the main columns creating a monolith.
This operating mode allows a considerable saving of cement. The material used is characterized by high compacity and low permeability which allows good resistance to aggressive environments. The 3D printing technique gives the characteristic external layers pattern, which Nyxo decided not to cover, leaving it as a distinctive feature of the building and to better fuse the artifact to the surrounding environment.
The designers at Nyxo studio are not new to using 3D printing to the fullest, to re-imagine real products. In 2015, in collaboration with CO-de-IT studio, they presented two beautiful concepts for air conditioners, which were in fact produced for exhibition purposes by Haier Group: Aemotion and Dahlia. In the Aemotion concept, the goal was to study a special effect able to attract and involve the user in the dynamics of the airflow. The parametric design was used as a medium in order to create and control the dynamic feedback and the mutual interaction of the diverse components.
The micro-scale composition of the frontal membrane, which can only be produced using a powder bed fusion 3D printing technology, allows its expansion. This elastic skin is characterized by a series of small cells held together through an array of springs harmonized in their size and shape to the specific area where they affect. The Dahlia concept also leveraged 3D printing for a highly personalized experience and was in fact the first appliance of this scale ever to be 3D printed.
With help from its natural-looking 3D printed geometries, the Supernatural Concre(a)tion 3D printed observation tower building is deeply connected with the natural and landscape context of the Al Wathba Wetlands Reserve and designed to make the area usable and enjoyable by humans while minimizing the impact on the territory and its integrity.
It is thought of as a privileged point of view, in which the visitor could still perceive the atmosphere of the external environment. A walkway built in a wooden composite leads the visitor to the entrance of the tower, which can be accessed by going up the staircase or using the manual elevator positioned inside. This second option not only makes the building accessible to anyone, but it is a recommended experience for all visitors because it allows observing the internal transition, from the cave-like atmosphere to the enlighted top. The whole path and visit at the tower are fluid enough to be covered with mobility aids and wheelchairs.