Architecture as an industry is becoming far more technically oriented than we have ever thought before. It appears as the beginning of the 4th Wave of the Industrial Revolution, marked by digitization and data utilization. BIM and Scripting are becoming the norm of future architectural production, and 3D printing is one of the growing trends at the conjecture of Architecture, Construction, and Product Design. The material experimentation undertaken in the realm of 3d printing is phenomenal, with a few basic materials such as clay and concrete used for 3d printing construction, a growth from using just poly-filament. 

3D-Printed Bridge Made of Concrete Blocks designed by Zaha Hadid Architects - Sheet1
Over and Under the Bridge_©Naaro / https://www.archpaper.com/2021/07/zaha-hadid-architects-striatus-3d-printed-concrete-arch-bridge-in-venice/

One of the most recent examples as of June 2021; is Striatus: a 3D printed concrete bridge in Venice, Italy, developed by the Computation and Design Group of Zaha Hadid Architects (ZAHACODE) with the Block Research Group (BRG) of the ETH Zurich, and further collaborated with incremental3D (in3D), Ackermann GmbH, and Holcim. The Pavillion displayed is at the Giardino Della Marinaressa, during the 2021 Venice Architecture Biennale. 

The Collaboration between Block Research Group and Zaha Hadid Architects focussed on refining the structural engineering, logistics, assembly, and construction of the footbridge; to achieve the final product showcased at the Venice Biennale

Project Characteristics

3D-Printed Bridge Made of Concrete Blocks designed by Zaha Hadid Architects - Sheet2
Connecting Components_©Tom Van Mele / https://design-milk.com/zaha-hadid-architects-design-a-3d-printed-bridge-made-of-concrete-blocks/

Designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, Striatus is an arched masonry footbridge, and a load-bearing structure composed of concrete blocks that have been 3D-Printed and assembled, removing the need to induce any form of mortar or reinforcement; making it the first of a kind. 

The footbridge measures 16m*12m (52 ft. x 40 ft.) and is a great example of a fusion between traditional vaulted construction techniques, advanced computational design, engineering design, digital concrete fabrication, and robotic manufacturing technologies. The freestanding and unreinforced pedestrian footbridge consists of 53 3D-printed concrete blocks; with the structure providing easy manoeuvring for a leisurely walking experience. 

The foremost aim of this project was to substantially reduce the environmental impact caused by the CO2 emissions of concrete structures. Therefore, the material developed is a newer type of concrete, used for the additional construction. 

The footbridge displays a masonry style and is a compression-only structural typology, which results in its stability. Due to the “Striated” funicular geometry, it is created from; the project is named “Striatus”: a homage to the physical form typology that makes the structure stand out in multiple aspects. 

The highly unique design also allows the forces occurring on the structure to travel to its footings and are tied on the ground to provide its stability. 

Construction Method

3D-Printed Bridge Made of Concrete Blocks designed by Zaha Hadid Architects - Sheet3
Final Assembly_©Tom Van Mele / https://design-milk.com/zaha-hadid-architects-design-a-3d-printed-bridge-made-of-concrete-blocks/

For the production of its panels, and its assembly; the application of the concrete is not horizontal, but at right angles to the flow of its compression forces, allowing the 3d-fabricated blocks to be pressed properly with themselves, avoiding the need to induce reinforcement or post-tensioning. This particular method of 3D concrete printing reduces production waste via printing the material only where structurally necessary.

The objective of the Project

The Zaha Hadid Architects designed Bridge justifies its purpose of diminished environmental impact, via its modular ability to be dissembled, transported, relocated, and rebuilt in the required locations whenever needed, as it is constructed without any mortar or binders. 

Given the technology and construction method employed for the Pavilion, the structure can have its used components replaced, separated, and recycled when they reach the end of its useful lifespan. Hence, being ephemeral and long-lasting at the same time.

The structure set the precedent not only for ephemeral structures created with advanced computational design methods via emerging robotic 3D printing technologies; but also established the first of the many in its “blueprint for building more with less.” 

3D-Printed Bridge Made of Concrete Blocks designed by Zaha Hadid Architects - Sheet4
Emerging Technologies_©Naaro / https://www.designboom.com/architecture/eth-zurich-zaha-hadid-striatus-first-3d-concrete-printed-bridge-venice-biennale-07-19-2021/

Holcim and BRG, two of the five main collaborators in this project, is aiming to shift the paradigm in construction, by replacing it with increasing planet-friendly material alternatives. The new, unreinforced flooring system induced by this technique would potentially require 30% of its volume of concrete and 10% of its quantity of steel when compared to the conventional reinforced concrete floor slabs.

Given that almost 300 billion square meters of floor area to be constructed worldwide over the next 30 years; the engineering and building technology-induced aims to reduce the hyper-consumption of materials such as concrete and steel and replace it with the emerging fabrication and robotic technology; which would positively impact the environment and conserve the usage of natural resources.

The Concept_©https://archello.com/news/3d-printed-concrete-bridge-by-zaha-hadid-architects-opens-soon-during-venice-biennale

The structure by Zaha Hadid Architects exemplifies the induction of technology in the fields of architecture and also reinstates the importance of multi-disciplinary collaboration between organizations, to drive

innovation in the field of architecture, engineering, construction, and material innovation; this is potentially the beginning of a new paradigm in architecture and one can only imagine what will happen next. 

A location post-Biennale for the Striatus is yet undecided, however, the structure is on view at the Biennale’s “Time Space Existence” exhibition and can be visited until the November of 2021 for those visiting and residing in the state of Venice.

References

Zaha Hadid Architects (2021). Striatus 3d Printed Concrete Bridge. [online]. (Last updated June 2021). Available at: https://www.zaha-hadid.com/design/striatus/ [Accessed 17 August 2021].

Matthew Hick (2021). Zaha Hadid Architects and Block Research Group unveil a swooping 3D-printed concrete bridge in Venice. [online]. (Last updated 19 July 2021). Available at: https://www.archpaper.com/2021/07/zaha-hadid-architects-striatus-3d-printed-concrete-arch-bridge-in-venice/ [Accessed 18 August 2021].

Vy Yang (2021). Zaha Hadid Architects Designs a 3D-Printed Bridge Made of Concrete Blocks. [online]. (Last updated 09 August 2021). Available at: https://design-milk.com/zaha-hadid-architects-design-a-3d-printed-bridge-made-of-concrete-blocks/ [Accessed 19 August 2021].

Tom Kolnaar (2021). 3d Printed concrete bridge by Zaha Hadid Architects opens soon during Venice Biennale. [online]. (Last updated 20 May 2021). Available at: https://archello.com/news/3d-printed-concrete-bridge-by-zaha-hadid-architects-opens-soon-during-venice-biennale [Accessed 23 August 2021].

Author

A final year architecture student, currently studying in SVKM-NMIMS Balwant Sheth School of Architecture, Mumbai, he has allied interests towards architectural photography and writing. Having a penchant for films and philosophy as well, he is of the belief that architecture and design have the ability to capture the most pivotal moments in life itself.

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