Mamou-Mani and Precht design largest 3D printed sand pavilion in Saudi Arabia

The two architectural firms bring nature and technology in a sculpturesque urban installation, Sandwaves, in the sand-swept landscape of Diriyah, in Saudi Arabia.

by Zohra Khan Published on : Feb 15, 2020

Arthur Mamou-Mani of London-based Mamou-Mani Architects and Chris Precht of Austria-based firm Precht, recently joined hands to create a sand-printed modular urban installation in the historic Diriyah town in Saudi Arabia. The project titled the Sandwaves was exhibited as part of the Diriyah Season – a popular sports and entertainment event in the region.

The installation forms a continuous ribbon for people to pass through, sit down and relax | The Sandwaves | Mamou-Mani and Precht | STIRworld
Sandwaves forms a continuous ribbon for people to pass through, sit down and relax Image Credit: Roberto Conte

Built using 58 3D printed components in sand and furan resin (cellulose of pine trees and corn kernels), the sculpture was designed to create an immersive outdoor landscape for the visitors. Its continuous ribbon-like form create narrow alleys and wide plazas that serve not just the purpose of an innovative urban furniture but as a place for people to journey through the beautiful site.

  • The sculpturesque landscape is designed as a new form of urban furniture | The Sandwaves | Mamou-Mani and Precht | STIRworld
    The sculpturesque landscape is designed as a new form of urban furniture Image Credit: Roberto Conte
  • The skin of the structure visually connects with the pattern of the palm trees | | The Sandwaves | Mamou-Mani and Precht | STIRworld
    The skin of the structure visually connects with the pattern of the palm trees Image Credit: Roberto Conte
We want this project to tell a story through its many layers…a journey of continuous discovery. – Arthur Mamou-Mani, Mamou-Mani

The Sandwaves leans onto the Najdi architectural style of Saudi Arabia, which is marked by clay and sun-dried mud brick structures. “Bris-soleils, ornaments and palms all have a similar effect. We tried to adapt the Sandwaves to its background in a very organic way,” says Chris Precht.

Dubai-based studio Design Lab Experience commissioned the project to Precht, who earlier did a similar concept in the design of a landscape sculpture called Soundwaves, in Xiangyang, China. Built in 2015, it comprised more than 500 perforated steel fins that stood upright as trees in a landscape of stones and water.

  • The making of a module of <em>Sandwaves </em> at the designers' studio | The Sandwaves | Mamou-Mani and Precht | STIRworld
    The making of a module of Sandwaves at the designers' studio Image Credit: Courtesy of Mamou-Mani and Precht
  • Sand and Furan resin which is a binder made of cellulose of pine trees and corn kernals are used to create the modules| The Sandwaves | Mamou-Mani and Precht | STIRworld
    Sand and furan resin, which is a binder made of cellulose of pine trees and corn kernals, are used to create the modules Image Credit: Courtesy of Mamou-Mani and Precht
  • A glimpse showing the final touches | The Sandwaves | Mamou-Mani and Precht | STIRworld
    A glimpse showing the final touches Image Credit: Courtesy of Mamou-Mani and Precht
  • Prefabricated modules assembled at the site | The Sandwaves | Mamou-Mani and Precht | STIRworld
    Prefabricated modules assembled at the site Image Credit: Courtesy of Mamou-Mani and Precht

Keen to do something new, Precht collaborated with Mamou-Mani, the firm that specialises in digital fabrication-led architecture.

The collaboration between the two architectural firms resulted in a holistic product that merges technology and nature. “We both believe in the cradle to cradle approach to design, using materials that can go back to their natural state, leaving no trace. We asked ourselves, ‘What is the most common raw material around?’ and sand came naturally to our minds,” explains Mamou-Mani.

  •  Layout Plan | The Sandwaves | Mamou-Mani and Studio Precht | STIRworld
    Layout Plan Image Credit: Courtesy of Mamou-Mani and Precht
  • A physical model of the project | The Sandwaves | Mamou-Mani and Precht | STIRworld
    A physical model of the project Image Credit: Courtesy of Mamou-Mani and Precht

The modules of Sandwaves are perforated to reflect not just an honest portrait of their structural capabilities but also to create different shades of transparency within the space. Given that sand is not a strong material to work with, the lattice thickness was parametrically generated by Format engineers. The thickness, derived from the material property, resulted in a decorative skin that connected visually with the pattern of the neighbouring trees.

The Sandwaves is a manifestation of the kind of innovation that is needed for our time – Arthur Mamou-Mani, Chris Precht

“Building with ecological way also means to build with local materials. In Bali that’s bamboo, in Austria that’s wood and in the Middle East that’s sand. The first buildings ever constructed were done in sand,” says Chris Precht, who believes that true innovation builds upon the achievement of the past. “The Sandwaves,” he adds, “is an example of responsible innovation that can have a positive impact on the future of our built environment.”

The project is the largest sand printed installation designed till date.

The installation demonstrate a new kind of innovation that is needed for our time | The Sandwaves | Mamou-Mani and Precht | STIRworld
The installation demonstrates a new kind of innovation that is needed for our timeImage Credit: Roberto Conte

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About Author

Zohra Khan

Zohra Khan

A formal education in architecture combined with an avid interest in architecture journalism and design criticism led Khan to professionally venture into writing and research. She has worked in design communication for more than three years, generating content for mondo*arc india journal. When not writing, she kicks back by dabbling on social media for STIR.

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