OTF 2017-18 General Brief

Senior Faculty and program co-directors: Alexandre Dubor, Edouard Cabay
Scientific Research Advisor: Mathilde Marengo
Robotic fabrication expert: Kunaljit Chadha

Mud construction is an ancestral technique based on the use of local materials yet they are a viable alternatives to meet the world challenges in construction. Its ecological footprint close to zero is a huge advantage over global warming and the need to reduce energy consumption. Almost all mineral ground that contains clay can be used for construction. At all stages of use, it requires very little embodied energy (e.g. no expensive cooking energy and little processing). Maintenance and repairs are easy. It can be recycled and does not generate waste. Mud construction allows substantial savings in winter heating and summer cooling thanks to their thermal inertia. Finally, thanks to their ability to absorb and evaporate, clays regulate humidity, promoting a healthy indoor climate. Nevertheless, while we can consider mud as an almost free material, traditional mud construction is labour a intensive process that can’t compete in the actual european market in terms of prices and finished quality.

Examples of traditional and modern architecture with mud

As 3D printing gains in momentum toward all the creative industries, new applications are continuously discovered. While Additive manufacturing (AM) for architecture is yet at an early stage, a clear potential have been identified by industries, contractors and architects. CAD software used in these professions allow already to design complex geometries, with the possibility to optimise shapes and material distribution toward more efficient buildings. AM have the potential to create quickly and precisely these complex geometries previously too expensive to make, while permitting a drastic reduction of production waste.

Examples of new shapes and performance possible by AM for architecture

Additive manufacturing with mud have the potential to reintroduce this traditional material within our contemporary culture, answering the current exigencies of quality, cost and efficiency. The previous project Pylos, Terraperfoma and an wall and column installation for Construmat developed by IAAC between 2013 and 2017, have proven the possibility to use additive manufacturing at architectural scale with mud. For this purpose, the project developed a new material mix 100% naturally sourced and biodegradable, potentially 3 time stronger than any unbaked clay material documented so far in scientific papers.  A custom extruder mounted on a robotic arm have been also developed along with a specific CAD-CAM software allowing to print easily complex shapes.

IAAC project Pylos (2013-15)

New opportunities offered by this technology are yet to be explore. The IAAC program Open Thesis Fabrication 2017-18 (OTF) propose to design and test at scale 1:1 architectural element that take advantage of the latest computational tools, the additive manufacturing process, and the great thermodynamic properties of the material to achieve passive performative system for bioclimatic architecture. Following IAAC’s experience in constructing Self-Sufficient Buildings (such as the Fab Lab House, Endesa Pavilion, Fab Condenser and the Urban Orchard … ), the OTF program aim at producing a performative housing prototype to be exhibited in Valldaura by march 2018.

IAAC Self Sufficient Buildings : FabLab House, Endesa Pavilion, Fab Condenser, Urban Orchard.