future homes from ferns?



The perceived difference between technology and nature has now been challenged by the development of 3D printing, as we are now witnessing that there is a ‘growing bond between nature and mathematical formulas’ (Lipson, H. & Kurman, M, 2013 pg 177). Even our homes and building structures are being influenced by this.

Using the mathematical algorithms to replicate nature at first seems incongruous.The design imperfection within nature and how ‘random patterns are stronger than regular patterns’ (Lipson, H. & Kurman, M. 2013 pg 268) seems to work against the mathematical calculations  that are utilised within 3D printing, something  that has developed from  natural designs becoming the basis of new structures.

Lipton and Kurman talk about the ancient mathematical concept called the Fibonacci series which is found everywhere in nature – ‘tree branches, ferns, artichoke flowers and ocean kelp’ (Lipson, H. & Kurman, M. 2013 pg 176) the Fibonacci series proceeds in a systematic manner where each number is the sum of the previous two, something that can be calculated relatively easily by a computer.

Working from natural design and construction, a team of material scientists have replicated natural bone formation by 3D printing two polymers (substances like nylon or Gore-Tex are polymers) at the same time, ‘in patterns that imbue it with more resistance than the sum of its parts’  –  http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2013-06/18/3d-printed-bone-buildings

Basically they are taking two substances that are found within the make-up of our skeleton (collagen and hydroxyapatite) and fusing them to create a new, stronger substance that will be used in the creating of a ‘bone like  substance’ to create a ‘3D printed, bone inspired house’. http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2013-06/18/3d-printed-bone-buildings


ProtoHouse by Softkill Design

Lipman and Kupman discuss this in their final chapter of ‘Fabricated’, that the future of 3D printing is developing into a fusion of different properties to create new ones, substances that have become much stronger than the original ones that were used. Enrico Dini an architect and innovator in the 3D building of houses was a pioneer within this area, building his first 3D house in 2010 out of sand and a binding agent.

In the future it seems we may continue to take and replicate more from nature, creating new man made structures. Maybe the houses we will develop in this way will not only be created from new nature inspired algorithms but also may adopt more organic, natural design.


Lipson, H. & Kurman, M., 2013 Fabricated: the new world of 3D printing, Indianapolis: John Wiley: chapter 1,  chapter 5chapter 10 , chapter 14,

Article available at; http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2013-06/18/3d-printed-bone-buildings

Article available at; http://www.3ders.org/articles/20120216-the-man-who-prints-houses-documentary-about-enrico-dini-and-his-heart-and-soul-in-3d-printing-buildings.html

Article available at;http://www.telegraph.co.uk/luxury/property-and-architecture/visionaries-2016-enrico-dini/

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