The monolithic Rock Print installation with its rough, yet elegant contours confirms that collaboration inspires “State of the Art Architecture”, the theme of the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial. Rock Print demonstrates a principle called “Jamming” during 2012 University of Chicago conference which brought architects, engineers, material scientists, and physicists together. Jamming refers to aggregate granular materials, like gravel that are quite literally crammed together in such a way that they hold their form and shape like a solid even though their molecular properties are closer, in terms of behaviour, to a liquid substance.
“Jamming” together, researchers from Gramazio Kohler Research, ETH Zurich and Skylar Tibbits’ Self-Assembly Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) produced, Rock Print, a zero waste and fully reversible architectural installation for the inauguration of the Chicago Architecture Biennial. Andreas Thoma, ETH Zurich, says: “Rock Print is a proof of concept that takes current robotic fabrication technology and applies it to a full-scale architectural project”. 3D printing technology is an inspiration for the future of architecture as it brings together resource efficient additive building principles with new possibilities for design.
The Rock Print installation challenges and expands the scope of 3D printing to an architectural scale by introducing robotic fabrication and the use of inexpensive, reconfigurable bulk construction materials. This radical approach attempts to open new possibilities for future architecture – using advanced digital fabrication technology to build with sustainable and locally available materials.