WASP’s Dual House 3D Printers Build Innovative Eco-Habitat in Italy

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Pioneering Italian 3D printer manufacturer WASP (World’s Advanced Saving Project) completed the printing phase of its sustainable living project TECLA, an innovative eco-habitat, circular housing model created entirely with reusable and recyclable materials, sourced from natural products adaptable to any climate. Designed by Mario Cucinella Architects (MCA) and engineered by WASP, the fully 3D printed model was built in the Massa Lombarda region in northern Italy using Crane WASP, the company’s latest innovation in on-site 3D construction.

The project represents an unprecedented perspective for buildings and new settlements, in which the value of local raw materials is amplified through digital design and manufacturing technologies. For WASP, it was also an ideal opportunity to showcase the capabilities of its multi-printer Crane WASP, the company’s flagship modular collaborative 3D printing system. First, TECLA’s design was developed using in-depth research by Mario Cucinella’s School of Sustainability in Bologna, Italy – a professional institute that integrates education, research, and practice focusing on applying sustainable architecture. It was then time for the two Crane WASP printers to collaboratively build the new eco-habitat with minimal need for human and energy resources.

Mario Cucinella Architects (MC A) created an innovative model for a 3D printed habitat. Image courtesy of WASP.

Crane WASP is the world’s first modular and multilevel 3D printer designed to build singular and even more extensive architectural works collaboratively. The system is configured according to project needs and is meant to define a safe and extremely efficient construction site. Each printer unit has a printing area of 50 square meters and makes it possible to build independent living modules, of any shape, in a few days.

According to the company, it is the first time that two printing arms have been synchronized for construction, thanks to WASP’s proprietary software capabilities that optimized movements, avoided collisions, and ensured simultaneous operation. Moreover, the company finalized TECLA’s first construction stage after 200 hours of printing, 7,000 machine codes (G-code), 350 layers of 12 mm, 150 km of extrusion, 60 cubic meters of natural materials, and average energy consumption under 6 kW.

Aerial view of WASP’s TECLA 3D printed house model. Image courtesy of WASP.

“From the shapeless earth to the earth as house-shaped. Today we have the knowledge to build with no impact in a simple click,” suggested Massimo Moretti, WASP Founder and CEO. “Technology is now at the human service, and the home as a birthright is real.”

The model was named TECLA after an imaginary city under continuous urban evolution, created by Italian writer Italo Calvino in his 1972 novel The Invisible Cities. The name has become representative of both companies’ efforts to combine technological innovation with respect for the environment and understand natural processes, stated WASP.

Tackling some significant issues around housing emergency, affordability, and sustainability, WASP has been redefining technology to create innovative products since 2012. The global housing shortage, in particular, has triggered a sustainable and fast nascent industry that could revolutionize construction. So far, we have seen companies leveraging 3D printing technology to construct sustainable and affordable buildings, like the Mighty Buildings certified 3D printed homes or Belgian-based Kamp C’s two-story house 3D printed in one piece. There are also dozens of projects in Dubai planning to 3D print buildings, including entire skyscrapers and China, where several projects have already resulted in 3D printed full-sized, detached single-story houses, villas, and even public restrooms.

TECLA is the second housing project for the company. In 2018, WASP teamed up with Italian startup RiceHouse to build GAIA, a fully 3D printed house made out of organic waste from rice production. Located at the WASP Technology Park, also in Massa Lombarda, GAIA stands out amid its surrounding natural forestation, lake, and 3D printed sculptures. The 322 square feet house only used up €900 worth of materials and was built in a few weeks thanks to the Crane WASP 3D printer. The sustainable, low-cost house doesn’t even need heating or air conditioning systems due to the efficient bioclimatic masonry.

WASP Founder Massimo Moretti (left) and architect Mario Cucinella (right) at the TECLA 3D printed house in Massa Lombarda. Image courtesy of WASP.

Unlike GAIA, the TECLA project is a bit more challenging. Used in the context of a wider masterplan, TECLA can become the basis for brand new autonomous eco-cities off the current grid. Unlike traditional housing models, the result is a highly flexible structure designed to be energy-efficient and resilient to any climate. Entirely 3D printed using locally sourced clay, with a double dome and potter wasp-inspired construction (reminiscent of the insect’s little clay homes), the high-performance house is a model of a circular economy.

The collaboration between WASP and MC A, which began in 2019, was also supported by other companies, like global construction materials developer Mapei, engineering consultancy Milan Ingegneria, and architectural frame manufacturer Capoferri RiceHouse, a startup that uses organic residues to create natural construction materials. We can look forward to seeing the final project installation in the Spring of 2021.

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