Construction 3D PrintingMaterialsSustainability

How ‘To Grow a Building’ using seeds and soil

According to a project, presented at Jerusalem Design Week, that demonstrates how to 3D print buildings using organic material

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According to a project submitted to designboom, a group of designers – Or Naim, Elisheva Gillis, Gitit Linker, Danny Freedman, Noa Zermati, Adi Segal, Rebeca Partook, and Nof Nathansohn – have created ‘To Grow a Building’, an outdoor performative lab that imagined the possibility of a world in which buildings are 3D printed from organic materials. The designers presented the project at Jerusalem Design Week 2022.

'To Grow a Building' project, presented at Jerusalem Design Week, 3D prints buildings using organic material.

For this project, the designers, sponsored by Rogovin, one of Israel’s oldest real estate firms, produced a custom-made robotic arm, linked to a computer, that methodically built small, green structures out of a natural, raw mix of soil and seeds. Upon completion, the sustainable structures then create a life of their own – the seeds sprout and transform the soil walls into a green facade, while the roots take hold within the walls and form a durable building material.

'To Grow a Building' project, presented at Jerusalem Design Week, 3D prints buildings using organic material.

The ‘To Grow a Building’ project examines the possibilities of organic architecture in the face of a global ecological crisis. With the use of industrial and non-local resources only increasing, ‘To Grow a Building’ proposes using raw, organic materials such as local soil and roots as structural elements to replace unsustainable buildings made of concrete and steel. The project presents a new approach – integrating flora into the architectural design process, by developing a novel material for 3D printing through which seeding is an inseparable part of the fabrication process.

'To Grow a Building' project, presented at Jerusalem Design Week, 3D prints buildings using organic material.

This year’s Jerusalem Design Week welcomed over 40,000 design enthusiasts to the Hansen House Center for Design, Media, and Technology, to showcase a mix of exhibitions, installations, and projects from over 150 Israeli and international designers. Work by invited designers centered around the theme ‘For Now’ – exploring both the ephemerality of design and the design of ephemerality, and examining ways in which time can be harnessed to bring about a positive effect in periods of uncertainty.

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Edward Wakefield

Edward is a freelance writer and additive manufacturing enthusiast looking to make AM more accessible and understandable.

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