HKU’s pavilion of 1000 3D printed clay structures goes on display

Designers from the University of Hong Kong (HKU) combined traditional Chinese clay craft with 3D printed architecture to create the CeramicINformation pavilion, a 3m² structure made up of 1000 interconnected clay structures.

The CeramicInformation project, led by Christian J. Lange and Donn Holohan from the HKU Faculty of Architecture, examines the role of digital design and fabrication in emerging economies. The pavilion is currently on display at the Bi-city Biennale of Urbanism and Architecture (UABB) in Shenzhen, China.

The CeramicINformation Pavillion. Photo via Christian J Lange.
The CeramicINformation Pavilion. Photo via Christian J Lange.

How clay can give the 21st Century character

Clay, a versatile material found all over the world has special significance in the architecture of China, where glazed clay roof-tiles are characteristic of temples and other official buildings.

The CeramicINformation project brings this distinctive tradition together with robotic fabrication, which is an efficient, automated, and economically viable way of creating structures amongst emerging and transitioning economies.

3D printing has produced interesting architectural forms such as TU Munich‘s Fluid Morphology and Arthur Mamou-Mani’s Galaxia. Like the CeramicINformation pavilion, these structures have varying degrees of transparency and torque, which makes them visually interesting and unique.

The CeramicINformation pavilion captures all of these ideas in a structure made entirely from 3D printed ceramic components.

3D printing Robot at the Robotic-fabrication-LAB-HKU-ceramic-information Pavilion. Photo via Christian J Lange.
3D printing Robot at the Robotic-fabrication-LAB-HKU-ceramic-information Pavilion. Photo via Christian J Lange.

3D printing the pavilion

Based at HKU’s new Robotic Fabrication LAB, the designers used the faculty’s new HK Urban lab construction robot that is capable of milling, 3D printing, and cutting. 

The robot was programmed with 1.5 million lines of code, and each clay structure, with an average of 1,400 individual target-points, was individually 3D printed in 2-3 minutes before glazing and firing. The structures were assembled into the CeramicINformation pavilion by the designers. Lange and Holohan explained to DesignBoom

“Each of the approximately 1,000 components that make up the experimental structure is unique and has a specific immanent relationship to its neighbors. This approach allowed the complex construction to be realized using unskilled labor, over a short period, without the need for typical architectural drawings.”

The ceramicINformation pavilion will be on display in Nantou Old Town, Shenzhen, as part of UABB until 15 March 2018.

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Close-up of the configuration of 3D printed structures. Photo via Christian J Lange.