3D Printing Architecture

by AIRLAB | Architectural Intelligence Research Lab @ SUTD

^ Rendering of three AirBamboo modules


Bridging the gap between the old and the new is never easy. Traditional building methods, where the unpredictability of a natural material leads to manual adjustments, seem to contrast with the mechanical precision of modern construction. AirBamboo - a bamboo gazebo developed by AIRLAB and Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) - bridges this gap.

The traditional raw bamboo poles, used extensively throughout Southeast Asia, are combined with 3D printed connectors, utilising a 2D scanning and image processing technologies. The result is an iconic, lightweight structure that promotes the use of public space, sheltering the users from both the intense sun and heavy rain.

Thanks to parametric design and realtime structural feedback, bespoke designs can be manufactured and assembled in less than two weeks, making the system suitable for disaster relieving structures.


01 - View of AirBamboo prototype 02 - Close-up view of the central 3D-printed connectors 03 - Detail view of the structure 04 - Close-up view of a 3D-printed node and tensors system 05 - Rendering of AirBamboo

Sombra Verde

Sombra Verde is an urban shelter that incentivizes the use of public spaces in tropical Singapore by protecting them from sun and rain with a fresh and novel expression for bamboo construction. Designed for Singapore's Urban Design Fes-tival 2018 as a resting place in the Duxton Plain Park corridor, the project bridg-es traditional materials and new technologies, combining raw bamboo poles with individually customized, biodegradable 3D printed connectors. Despite measuring 8.5 x 6.5m with a height of 3m, it weighs less than 150 kg and delicately touch-es the ground on three inverted tripod columns. Figures 5.8 and 5.9 contextualize the pavilion on its site.


01 - Front view of Sombra Verde 02 - Aerial view of the Duxton Plain Park 03 - Detail view of a 3D-printed connection 04 - Side view of Sombra Verde 05 - Zenital view

AirMesh Pavilion at the Gardens by the Bay

With the vision of reducing the usage of material in construction, and ambition to fully enable absolute free-form in Architectural design, an entirely new constructive system has been developed over five years of research.

AirMesh pushes the limits of lightness in Architectural innovation becoming the world's first architectural space-frame structure made of metal 3D printed components. The pragmatic form of AirMesh is defined by the views’ directions, and the volume is defined by four vectors oriented towards highlights in the surrounding landscape. Space is generated by four rectangular view frames, and its faceted form reinterprets a traditional Chinese lantern, lighting up in subtle color gradients.

The structure was designed using custom parametric software that optimizes the topology of the space frame, the section of the bars and the geometry of the node. As a result, the structure presents the optimal configuration and distribution of material where mechanically needed. The pavilion consists of 200 bars of different lengths and sections, and 54 unique nodal joints printed in a stainless steel and bronze alloy. The assembly of the structure took only two days by five people, as a result of big technological innovation applied to the connection of the elements, being able to 3D print the threads within the nodes to facilitate the assemblage with bolts concealed in the bars. Only hex keys of different diameters were needed to assemble the pavilion.

It sets a path for full free-form designs, with a rapid assembly and in a more affordable range.


01 - General night view of AirMesh 02 - View from inside of the pavilion 03 - Left: Framed view from inside of the pavilion; Right: Front view of AirMesh 04 - Night views of the Pavilion 05 - View of the cantilevered space at night

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