IAAC constructs 3D-printed building in spain using earth, aloe, egg whites & enzymes

3D-printed prototype building generates zero waste


The Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC) introduces what it calls the first architecture of its kind in Spain named TOVA, made with earth, aloe, egg whites, and enzymes through an architectural 3D printer from Ravenna-based company WASP. The construction took place at the Valldaura Labs facilities on the outskirts of Barcelona and displays a prototype of what future homes might unfold in the country as the research institute attempts to find solutions to climate, social, and environmental challenges faced by the industries of design and architecture. Large-scale 3D printing technology helms the construction of the prototype infused with earth and additives to ensure that the outcome is grounded and stable.


As IAAC claims, the prototype building generated zero waste since the materials the team used came from local earth within 50 meters radius of the construction location mixed with additives and enzymes to confer the architecture elasticity and stability optimized for 3D printing. Geo-polymer laid the foundation of the prototype, topped with wood for its roof. The added waterproof coating guarantees future homes to surpass extreme weather conditions, and IAAC employed raw extracted materials such as aloe and egg whites to test the longevity and resistance of the prototype to these weather conditions.

IAAC constructs 3D-printed building in spain using earth, aloe, egg whites & enzymes
images courtesy of Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC) | header image & photo © Gregori Civera



Influences from the climatic conditions of the mediterranean


The design team drew the inspiration for the prototype’s built from the climatic conditions of the Mediterranean. The compact volume shelters the home from the cold in winter, but remains expandable to cater to the other seasons of the year. The approach grants any building to be constructed of the same kind an immediate use for whatever outdoor surroundings they will be set up. A network of cavities makes up the walls of the prototype home that contain airflow and insulation to prevent heat loss in winter and protect from solar radiation in summer. IAAC states that its 3D-printed building is a near-zero emissions project through its shell and the use of local materials. The research institute thinks it constitutes a reduction of waste and paves a path for low-carbon building, ‘given that current construction methods are responsible for 36 % of CO2 emissions,’ IAAC shares.


The intention of the project circles back to sustainable housing that could be built anywhere in the world. The 3D printing and additive manufacturing techniques have been reaching new heights in the research industry, and IAAC has taken up the opportunity to toy with it by constructing a pioneering prototype in Spain. It marks the research institute’s way to access the housing problem of vulnerable areas and temporary settlements and offer a solution on how to create a sustainable and, as IAAC puts it, affordable space or building. ‘3D printing or additive manufacturing is a great example of km zero construction, as the construction work can be done 100% with local materials and labor. In addition, the printing system allows highly customizable houses for different use cases; such as communities of homes and services that can be rapidly created using this technology anywhere,’ IAAC writes.

IAAC constructs 3D-printed building in spain using earth, aloe, egg whites & enzymes
3D print detail with crane WASP



The prototype as a future of the architectural designs


IAAC shares that its construction model opens up possible applications of the same method in other architectural designs, from homes and public structures to interiors and exteriors. The use of raw extracted materials and 3D printers can accommodate buildings that might be deemed as complex, innovative, and a response to the environmental impact of the construction field. IAAC takes on projects that might address the climate and migration emergencies by tackling global-housing problems faced by cities, drawn from the increase in migration and natural disasters.


‘The use case of this rapid construction method can be a solution for increasing spaces that require an emergency response for housing solutions of masses such as communities for asylum seekers,’ writes IAAC. The project has been developed by the 3dPA post-graduate research program at the IAAC, and IAAC says that the objective of this course is to train young architects and academics for the future of construction and to explore the possibilities of 3D printing in this sector.

IAAC constructs 3D-printed building in spain using earth, aloe, egg whites & enzymes
3D print detail during construction

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