WASP breathes new life into Milan’s forgotten railway underbelly

Italian 3D printer manufacturer WASP has announced a project to repurpose the abandoned spaces beneath Milan’s central railway station.

Back in 1960, the first ‘Drop City,’ a countercultural community in Colorado was established to focus on exploring harmony with nature through art and architecture, says the company. Today, Milan’s central railway has become the site of a new Dropcity, reminiscent of its American counterpart, says the company. 

As per WASP, this project aims to foster progressive ideas in architecture and design within the station’s tunnels, serving as a neutral ground for creative exploration and collaboration. During the “Dropcity in-progress” event at Milan Design Week, WASP will commence the renovation of Tunnel 54, one of the long-abandoned tunnels earmarked for transformation, says the company.

WASP 3D Printing Construction Site for Milan Design Week 2024 in Dropcity. Image via WASP.
WASP 3D Printing Construction Site for Milan Design Week 2024 in Dropcity. Image via WASP.

WASP’s 3D printing endeavors

By leveraging its 3D printing, WASP intends to manufacture furniture and office spaces directly at the construction site, marking a shift from conventional building practices. This method not only rejuvenates neglected infrastructure but also advocates for principles such as sustainability and technological progress, says the company.

Central to WASP’s efforts will be the use of advanced 3D printing technologies, including the Crane WASP and the experimental Crane WASP Scara, which promise to redefine architectural 3D printing for building facades. Additionally, a Clay 3D Printing Farm, comprising WASP 40100 Production printers, will be employed to construct intricate architectural elements.

From April 12th to 21st, WASP will open its 3D printing site to the public, inviting visitors to witness the restoration works and explore its pioneering techniques. Located at Via Giovanni Battista Sammartini 54, Milan, the event will coincide with the Salone del Mobile, offering attendees a glimpse into the future of architecture and design.

Back in 2022, WASP collaborated with the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia, Barcelona (IAAC), to develop sustainable 3D printed architectures using natural materials. The first housing prototype, printed with WASP’s Crane WASP 3D printer at Valldaura Labs. A year before that, WASP completed 3D printing an eco-friendly organic house named ‘TECLA,’ a collaborative project with Mario Cucinella Architects. Built using multiple systems simultaneously depositing natural materials into a unique supporting structure, the dwelling serves as a proof-of-concept for sustainable housing.

WASP Headquarter in Dropcity – Finished layout. Image via WASP.
WASP Headquarter in Dropcity – Finished layout. Image via WASP.

The unique landscape of 3D printed architecture

Architecture has come a long way since the use of 3D printing. In efforts to preserve the cultural heritage of archaeological sites in Syria, 3D printing previously played a crucial role following the devastation caused by ISIS bombings. The Dubai Future Foundation spearheaded the initiative to reconstruct some of the destroyed artifacts using 3D printing. These reconstructed artifacts were then showcased at the “Spirit in the Stone” digital archaeology exhibition held at the United Nations’ New York headquarters, highlighting the intersection of technology and cultural preservation on a global scale.

To explore 3D printed architecture practices, Rotterdam-based Studio RAP unveiled a project in Amsterdam’s upscale shopping district. The three-story townhouse at 32 P.C. showcases a striking facade with subtle ripples, achieved through computational design and 3D printed ceramic tiles. Studio RAP’s approach integrated technology and craftsmanship, creating intricate patterns reminiscent of textiles.

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Featured image shows WASP Headquarter in Dropcity – Finished layout. Image via WASP.