by Meghna MehtaMar 03, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.