Italian 3D-printing company WASP recently presented Gaia, a case study for 3D-printed construction which incorporates raw materials from the surrounding area. Made in collaboration with RiceHouse, a manufacturer of rice products for architectural use, Gaia is being promoted as a new eco-sustainable architectural model. Green building principles are applied to digital fabrication, resulting in the first house 3D printed with earth.
RiceHouse supplied vegetable fibers used by WASP to develop a compound composed of 25% site-specific soil made up of clay, silt and sand; 40% straw-chopped rice; 25% rice husk and 10% hydraulic lime.
Gaia’s external casing was 3D printed on-site with the Crane WASP, a modular printing system that emulates traditional building cranes. Material deposition was controlled through articulated weaves, allowing for constructive solidity and geometric variation. The casing is designed to integrate both natural ventilation systems and thermo-acoustic insulation systems; its finished iteration, a 40 cm thick wall measuring a total of 30 m2, took 10 days to be completed and cost just €900.
According to WASP, the full structure was printed in a few weeks and maintains a mild, comfortable temperature in all seasons without the need for heating or air conditioning. Light is optimized through the positioning of a large window within the building’s southwest orientation.
Since its origins in 2012, WASP, which stands for World's Advanced Saving Project, has committed to developing equipment for additive manufacturing on an architectural scale. The name also refers to the company’s symbol, the potter wasp; much like the Gaia project itself, the insects are known to use mud as a building material for their pottery-like nests.
WASP’s CEO, Massimo Moretti, said, "The mud wasp is our model of development, a perfect approach to build low-cost houses with natural material.”