(Not) Just another print of a wall

3D printing’s integration into architecture is no longer a novelty. The advantages that additive manufacturing offers architects are also widely known. Complex geometries can be realized more easily, costs can be saved, and functionalities can be integrated directly into designs and construction plans.

This integration of functions, however, can be taken even further. The Meristem Wall, a project at Lund University led by two Swedish innovative architects David Andreen and Ana Goidea, takes functionality to a new level without compromising on aesthetics.

Meristem Wall – an homage to 3D printed architecture

When science, innovation and creativity meet, a troika is unleashed that seeks the potentials of functional integration beyond the known and tested. The Meristem Wall, a project by architects Ana Goidea and David Andreen, embodies precisely this troika and stands as a symbol for the forward-thinking virtuality of 3D-printed architecture.

A long fascination for additive manufacturing was one of the drivers, that motivated David and Ana to create something completely new and unprecedented. A monolithic build, that does not only incorporate functional parts such as pipes for electrical wiring and water flow, but also an optimized surface that acts as an urban wildlife habitat as well as a highly complex ventilation network, allowing the wall to “breathe” in a controlled matter. A project of such complexity and such innovation is perfectly suited for additive manufacturing.

All in all, the Meristem Wall incorporates the following functions:

  • Structural support of self-weight (could be extended to carry additional load)
  • Integrated electricity and light fixtures using industry standard equipment
  • Integrated water pipes using industry standard equipment (PEX tubing)
  • Windows
  • Distributed ventilation system controlling heat storage and internal moisture levels. Embedded actuators and sensors for control, without moving parts.
  • Rainwater run-off
  • An exterior wall zone that acts as a diverse wildlife habitat.
  • Air filtration
  • Interior fabric surface
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Here the next challenge awaited: With maximum dimensions of 1.25 x 2.1 x 0.7 meters the wall was too big for most of the existing additive manufacturing systems. Finally, the VX4000 from voxeljet with a building envelope of 4 x 2 x 1 meters, was designated as the right 3D printer to create the wall.

Where do we go from here?

Once the parts were printed, infiltrated and packed, they made their way to Venice to be displayed at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2021. There, Ana and David assembled the single elements to one connected wall. With its 1.25 meters in length and 2.1 meters in height it will stay there on display until November 21st.

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