This 3D-Printed Tiny Cabin Offers a Creative Response to the Bay Area’s Housing Crisis
True to its name, the unusual structure is clad in over 4,500 3D-printed ceramic tiles and features a beautiful front facade full of succulents.
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Founded by Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello, Emerging Objects is a self-described "MAKE-tank" focused on cutting-edge applications of 3D printing in architecture and construction.
Partly fabricated from biodegradable materials and clay, the Cabin of Curiosities builds on the studio’s history of 3D printing with unconventional items, including recycled tires and salt.
"We are demonstrating that there are other potential applications for 3D printing in the fields of architecture and building construction," explains Rael. "Most attention is spent on concrete, however, there has been very little innovation on this front since it was developed in the 1980s by Behrokh Khoshnevis."
"Our methods and materials portray a very different paradigm: one that focuses on 3D-printed architecture as being sustainable—using waste stream, biodegradable materials, and clay–based materials—as well as beautiful, and crafted by integrating contemporary building practices," Rael continues to state.
Two types of 3D-printed tiles are used on the cabin’s exterior. For instance, the front facade is clad in the studio’s "Planter Tiles." These hexagonal tiles are made from a mix of biodegradable and waste materials, including Portland cement, sawdust, and "chardonnay" pomace—the waste product from wine grapes pressed for juice.
Created in six different colors, the tiles are also integrated with tiny succulent planters to create a low-maintenance living wall.
The cabin’s remaining facades are covered in the studio’s "Seed Stitch" tiles, which are highly textured and 3D-printed at rapid speeds in a looping technique to create an uneven and handmade appearance.
The cabins also feature translucent, white Chroma Curl tiles on the wall, which are made of bioplastic derived from corn. More so, the single room houses a wealth of 3D-printed bioplastic furnishings, including the futon, chairs, coffee table, and decor items.
"What's exciting about this for us is that it opens the door for home owners, architects, designers, makers, tinkerers, etc. to use the relaxed codes to experiment in their own backyards, as we collectively try to address some of the housing problems at a micro scale," Rael says.
"Much like the garage maker-space movement, the backyard building space might become a platform where new ways of living are tested, new technologies can be invented and tested, and new materials can be discovered," he continues to note.
"At the same time, we have discovered that the process works and is scalable. We are confident that 3D printing can be used for buildings from small houses to skyscrapers, and look forward to testing this with larger projects in the near future."
Project Team: Ronald Rael, Virginia San Fratello, Logman Arja, Hannah Cao, Sandy Curth, Barrak Darweesh, Yonghwan Kim, Daniel Komen, Cooper Rodgers, Alex Schofield, Phirak Suon, and Kent Wilson
Special thanks to: Ehren Tool, Danny Defelici at 3DPotter, Leonard Dodd at Erectorbot, Autodesk, and The Bakar Fellows Program and Departments of Architecture and Art Practice at The University of California Berkeley
Additional thanks to: Alisa Nadolishny, Natalie Yu, Anthony Gianini, and Sarah Rippee