The TECLA prototype house in fall 2020.
Sustainable 3D-printed prototype house in Italy is made from locally-sourced clay
Originating from a collaboration between architect Mario Cucinella and 3D-printer manufacturer WASP, TECLA is a prototype eco-house built near Ravenna, northern Italy, entirely made by 3D-printing a material based on locally-sourced clay.
TECLA (an acronym which stands for “Technology and Clay”) is a habitat consisting of two interconnected housing units, each covered by a semi-spherical dome.
The units have been built using multiple Crane Wasp printing units operating simultaneously. Crane WASP is defined by the manufacturer as “a collaborative 3D printing system capable of printing houses” and can print various materials – such as earth-based materials, concrete mortar, and geopolymers – with a maximum speed of 300 mm/s and a maximum printing area of 50 sqm per unit.
The design of the habitat features two or more “cocoon-like” housing units, whose shape vaguely resembles that of a sea urchin, in which structure, insulation, and finishes coincide.
The thick raw earth walls of the units have a hollow structure consisting of several clay “waves”, which makes them at the same time relatively lightweight, resistant, and highly insulating.
About 200 printing hours are required to build each unit, which consists of 350 clay layers, each 12 mm thick.
The walls of the TECLA housing units are composed of several wave-shaped partitions each consisting of 350 clay layers.
According to WASP, the use of raw earth as the primary construction material will make it easier to create modular and zero-waste dwellings also in environments to which it would be difficult to transport other materials such as concrete or steel; furthermore, the company’s 3D-printing building technology and equipment will be available through a “Maker Economy Starter Kit” suitable for self-production.
Together with WASP we aim at developing an innovative 3D-printed prototype for a habitat that responds to the increasingly urgent climate revolution and the needs of changes dictated by community needs. We need a paradigm shift in the field of architecture that gets closer to the needs of people, thus finding an answer for the “Earth” within the “earth”. A collaboration that becomes the union between empathic architecture and the application of new technologies. (Mario Cucinella).
Now in an advanced stage of construction, TECLA is scheduled for completion in spring 2021.
The prototype habitat has been built by two WASP Crane units working in parallel.
According to the manufacturer, combining WASP’s 3D printers with the “Maker Economy Starter Kit” will allow communities in rural and/or remote areas of the world to create clusters of low-cost dwelling units quickly and easily.
Two renderings of the interior of the TECLA house in summer and winter scenarios.
All images courtesy of MCA Mario Cucinella Architects (https://www.mcarchitects.it/) and WASP (https://www.3dwasp.com/en/)