TECLA: 3D printed eco-habitat by WASP and Mario Cucinella Architects in Italy

Engineered by 3D printing specialists WASP and designed by Mario Cucinella Architects, the first prototype of TECLA in Ravenna is built entirely using reusable and recyclable materials.

by STIRworldPublished on : Mar 08, 2021

TECLA, which derives its name from technology and clay, is a new circular housing model that is the result of advanced research between matter and technology. In a time of housing and climate crises, it sensitively responds to the future by rising possibilities for sustainable dwellings. Constructed in Ravenn, Italy as a collaborative proposal between WASP (World's Advanced Saving Project) and Mario Cucinella Architects (architectural firm with offices in Bologna and New York), this experimentation is based on producing it entirely from reused and recycled materials that are carbon-neutral and adaptable to multiple localities and contexts, while also being sourced indigenously.

  • TECLA incorporates a circular housing model, created using entirely reusable, recyclable materials taken from the local terrain | TECLA by WASP and Mario Cucinella Architects | STIRworld
    TECLA incorporates a circular housing model using entirely reusable, recyclable materials acquired from the local terrain Image: Courtesy of WASP
  • Clay materials and the key components were identified within the raw earth mixture to create the final highly optimised printable product | TECLA by WASP and Mario Cucinella Architects | STIRworld
    Clay materials and the key components were identified within the raw earth mixture to create the final highly optimised printable product Image: Courtesy of WASP

According to a 2017 United Nations report, the current global population of 7.6 billion is expected to reach 11.2 billion in 2100, and approximately five billion people are expected to live in cities in 2030. Therefore, the governments face extreme difficulties related to housing solutions. With more and more rural areas being incorporated into cities, TECLA has the potential to become the basis for brand new autonomous eco-cities that are off the current grid. TECLA’s latest intervention in this realm was built using multiple 3D printers functioning at the same time. Therefore, it brings an actual challenge for maximising the performance of ‘raw earth’, a material among the oldest and the most stimulating ones for the future of the green economy. Being at the forefront of research advancement, TECLA attempts to reflect on the various possibilities and perspectives within the physical limitations of the printing geometries.

The prototype was named TECLA, after an imaginary city in The Invisible Cities being described as a ‘continuous urban evolution’ | TECLA by WASP and Mario Cucinella Architects | STIRworld
The prototype was named TECLA after an imaginary city in The Invisible Cities being described as a ‘continuous urban evolution’ Image: Courtesy of WASP

By becoming the first eco-habitat to be built using Crane WASP (world’s first modular and multilevel 3D printer designed to collectively build singular and large-scale architectural works), the structure takes inspiration from potter wasp, founded on the principles of a circular economy and digital fabrication. The completion of TECLA validates that with 3D technology one can create and construct structures by optimising the construction process and reducing human and other energy resources. “The completion of the structure is an important milestone and shows that TECLA is no longer just a theoretical idea but can be a real and achievable response to the needs of living today and the future, that can be declined in different contexts and latitudes,” says ​Mario Cucinella, Founder of Mario Cucinella Architects and SOS - School of Sustainability.

Conceptual representation of the WASP ‘Tecla’ Maker Economy Starter Kit | TECLA by WASP and Mario Cucinella Architects | STIRworld
Conceptual representation of the WASP ‘Tecla’ Maker Economy Starter Kit Image: Courtesy of WASP

Developed through detailed research at the School of Sustainability, founded by Mario Cucinella, the project has been thoroughly studied and analysed for further improvements and inventions in the future. The WASP proprietary software used for TECLA is thereby the result of many years of research that has now led to the computerisation of shapeless matter, managing to build and construct the imaginable. ​The ‘WASP Economy Starter Kit’ comprising multiple 3D printers and a complex system of picking, mixing and pumping materials would now make it possible to imitate the construction process. It will further limit industrial waste and offer a unique sustainable model that will boost the global and local economies while improving the wellbeing of communities.

Due to the software capabilities of optimising movements, avoiding collisions and ensuring simultaneous operation, for the first time in the world, two printing arms have been synchronised as part of a construction. “From the shapeless earth to the earth as house shaped. Today we have the knowledge to build with no impact in a simple click. Technology is now at the human service and the home as a birthright is real,” s​tates Massimo Moretti, WASP Founder. The construction materials were sourced by Mapei after conducting intensive studies on clay materials, and the structural tests were carried out by Milan Ingegneria to build a self-supporting structure and landscaping has been conceptualised by Frassinago. Furthermore, the efficiently customised frames were produced by Capoferri while the raw earth floor was developed by Primat Srl within the brand Terracruda. Additionally, technical consultancy about bio-materials were provided by Rice House post the assessment of thermal performance along with living comforts.

  • Spatial settings that respond to the needs of the future | TECLA by WASP and Mario Cucinella Architects | STIRworld
    Spatial settings that respond to the needs of the future Image: Courtesy of Mario Cucinella Architects
  • WASP produces 3D-printed houses in the shortest and most sustainable way with the first multi-printer Crane WASP system | TECLA by WASP and Mario Cucinella Architects | STIRworld
    WASP produces 3D-printed houses in the most sustainable way using its multi-printer Crane WASP system Image: Courtesy of WASP

Born from a vision to provide everyone a home and fill the gap of affordable housing, the zero-waste TECLA is definitely a step forward in providing solutions for eco-housing. The double dome of the structure covers the roles of structure, roof, and external cladding all at the same time, and thus optimising its performance to the fullest.

(Text by Nikitha Sunil, intern at STIRworld.com)

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