Jaw-dropping 3D-printed grotto explores the future of architecture

April 4, 2017 by  
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Architects Michael Hansmeyer and Benjamin Dillenburger unveiled their latest 3D-printed masterpiece—a full-scale ornamental grotto. Crafted with intricate baroque-like detail like its predecessor , the Digital Grotesque II shows off the power of digital fabrication in its transformation of 1.3 billion digital surfaces into seven tons of printed sandstone. The stunning 3D-printed recently made its premier at the Centre Pompidou’s ‘Imprimer le monde’ exhibition in Paris. Commissioned by Centre Pompidou for their permanent collection, the Digital Grotesque II is larger than its predecessor and took two years to develop, one month to print, and just two days to assemble the seven tons of printed sandstone . Every part of the grotto’s architecture was generated through customized algorithms without any need for manual tinkering. The architects write: “The grotto is entirely designed by algorithms, and optimized to present highly differentiated geometries that forge a rich and stimulating spatial experience for the observer. A subdivision algorithm exploits the 3D printer’s full potential by creating porous, multi-layered structures with spatial depth. A single volume spawns millions of branches, growing and folding into a complex topological structure. Hundreds of square meters of surface are compressed into a 3.5 meter high block that forms an organic landscape between the man-made and the natural.” Related: The World’s First 3D Printed Room is a Mind-Boggling Baroque Interior The overwhelmingly intricate grotto appears both organic and synthetic. Hansmeyer and Dillenburger did not draw on inspiration from nature or existing styles when they programmed the algorithms that determined the design, though many parts of the grotto look as if they could belong in a baroque facade or a natural cave. The grotto stands at 3.45 meters in height and is made from sand-printed elements including silicate and binder. + Digital Grotesque Images © Fabrice Dall’Anese, Michael Lyrenmann, Demetris Shammas, Jann Erhard, and Michael Hansmeyer

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Jaw-dropping 3D-printed grotto explores the future of architecture

These tenacious bees create sturdy nests by carving out standstone

September 14, 2016 by  
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Bee populations have suffered in recent years , but one tenacious species thrives in a harsh environment: the deserts of the American Southwest . An entomologist from Utah State University (USU) found not only does this new bee species build nests in sandstone , they actually prefer to construct homes there, and their curious habit helps them survive. Almost 40 years ago, USDA-ARS entomologist Frank Parker found bees living in sandstone at two places in the San Rafael Desert in Utah . Although he researched the unusual bees, his work was set aside for many years until USU doctoral student Michael Orr began to once again research the insects . Orr found nests made by the “uncommon” and “hard-to-find” bees in five other locations in southern Utah, Death Valley in California, and at the Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde in Colorado. Related: Australian beekeepers celebrate rare flowering of trees that are a magnet for bees The new species, called Anthophora pueblo , “actually prefers nesting in sandstone,” according to Orr. He’s the lead author on a paper published this week in Current Biology . Though now retired, Parker is also credited on the paper. Orr said, “The desert is a hard place to live. Anthophora pueblo has pioneered a suitable niche between a rock and a hard place.” Sturdy sandstone offers the bees protection. Orr says sometimes bees stay inside the sandstone nests as a way to cope with drought when flora is limited. Built high into the rock, the bee nests also offer safety from flash floods or erosion. There’s even less chance of microbes that threaten bees coming to the sandstone nests. Since sandstone doesn’t have as much organic matter as some habitats, most microbes growing in the rock make food for themselves, and so aren’t as likely to invade the bees’ home. Via Phys.org Images via Michael Orr, Utah State University

These tenacious bees create sturdy nests by carving out standstone

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