Combining a traditional building material (ceramics) with a new fabrication technique (3d printing) to re-think an ancient building component (bricks), Building Bytes demonstrates how 3D printers will become portable, inexpensive brick factories for large-scale construction.
The power of Building Bytes is its accessibility. The fabrication starts with a standard desktop 3D printer, a technology that is quickly becoming available to designers worldwide. A customized extrusion system is attached that can accommodate any liquid material, such as concrete or earthenware ceramics (shown). This simple adaptation allows users to source local building materials that are both available and familiar.
Building Bytes also offers designers and architects far more opportunity for ingenious design than a standard extruded brick. Printed bricks can have complex exterior surfaces, permitting interlocking or curvature of the final structure, while their internal structure can be engineered to significantly lower their weight or increase their strength at stress points for a particular build. And while the fabrication of the bricks is new, builders throughout the world will be familiar with using them in construction.
The first phase of this research was conducted during a 8-week residency at a ceramic work center. Four brick types were developed to test and demonstrate to potential of this fabrication system and its applications in interior and exterior architecture: 1) Honeycomb Bricks – modular honeycomb stackable bricks; 2) X-Bricks – for vertical tiling; 3) Ribbed Bricks – for columns and towers; 4) Interlocking Bricks – for domes and arches.
The fixed limitations (the print area of a desktop 3D printer, the capacity of the material storage system and the material properties of clay) of the project led to the development of a small architectural component: bricks. While the material and building unit are ancient and fairly universal, this project proposes a new fabrication technique.