The Kid Should See This

Mud Frontiers, an exploration of 3D-printed mud shelters and objects

On the 40th anniversary of the Smithsonian Magazine, they announced the 40 things you need to know about the next 40 years. Number one on that list was: “Sophisticated buildings will be made of mud”. Emerging Objects explores these frontiers of technology and material using traditional materials (clay, water, and wheat straw), to push the boundaries of sustainable and ecological construction in a two phase project that explores traditional clay craft at the scale of architecture and pottery. The end goal of this endeavor is to demonstrate that low-cost and low-labor construction that is accessible, economical and safe is possible.

Architecture and design professors Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello of Emerging Objects are mixing traditional Indigenous materials like these with large scale 3D printing techniques carried out in a low-cost way by a portable robot.

The results, a two-part exploration called Mud Frontiers, are self-insulating and strong enough to walk on. They can also function as hearths and kilns.

3D printing mud
The Lookout, standing on a 3D-printed mud viewing platform

The project began in the contemporary borderlands along the Rio Grande watershed beginning in El Paso and Juarez and ended near the headwaters of the Rio Grande in Colorado’s San Luis Valley, which was the edge of the historic border between the U.S. and Mexico prior to 1848. The entire region has employed traditional pottery and earthen construction traditions for centuries.

3D printing mud
Emerging Project's Mud Frontiers Hearth
Read more about their work at, at U.C. Berkeley, and at San Jose State University. They also created Teeter-Totter Wall.

Previously from the Emerging Objects studio on TKSST: Building a House the Eco-Friendly Way with 3D Printing.

Then watch these related videos next:
• How to build with different mud recipes
• An animated history of Housing Through the Centuries
• How do cliff swallows build their mud pellet nests?
• A sustainable cooling system made with wet terracotta cones

via Colossal.

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