Unveiled at Beijing Design Week earlier this month, the world's "largest 3D printed architectural structure," as crowned by Guinness World Records, is an impressive sight. Masterminded by architects Yu Lei and Xu Feng of local design-build firm Laboratory for Creative Design (LCD), the pavilion stands at almost 10 feet high, measures 26 feet long, and covers over 1,076 square feet in area. The designers thought the arching structure bore a striking resemblance to the mushroom cloud formed during a volcanic eruption, so they named it Vulcan, the Roman god of fire and the Latin origin of the word "volcano."
Spectacularly massive at first sight, the 1.5-ton (3,000-pound) Vulcan is actually all about the details. LCD spent several months probing the potentials of large-scale 3D printing for this project, sourcing inspiration from its long-term research into the phenomenon of cocoons. They were specifically interested in replicating the silken, webbed filaments, a form that ultimately translated into 1,023 3D-printed pieces composing the final design.
These components took 20 large-scale custom 3D printers 30 days to produce and another 20 days to assemble. According to the architects, the pressure of gravity helps hold the assembled pieces in place. Since it can also be divided into three separate modules, Vulcan will be able to fulfill an array of purposes, as well as disassemble and reassemble when needed.
A newly released video from LCD documenting Vulcan's design, construction and assembly.
For its debut, Vulcan was erected in Parkview Green, one of Beijing's newest shopping centers and the sponsor of the project. Designed by Hong Kong-based firm Winston Integrated Design Associates with an assist from Arup, the glassy new LEED Platinum building includes a five-star boutique hotel called Eclat, offices for firms like Tesla, and a bevy of high-end shops that range from Stella McCartney to Van Cleef & Arpels. This ritzy commercial setting plays an unusual host for design fair debuts, but it's certainly a compelling one. While the techniques behind Vulcan might not penetrate practical, everyday architecture for some while, this particular installation made the implications of the technology a lot more accessible to the public.
∙ This Remarkable Pavilion Is Made From Over 1,000 3D-Printed Units [Curbed]
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∙ All 3D-printing coverage [Curbed]