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First eco-sustainable 3D-printed house made from raw earth materials is ready for residents

WASP (World’s Advanced Saving Project), an Italian 3D-printing company founded in 2012, has finished the construction of its eco-sustainable housing model entirely made from locally-sourced, raw earth materials.

Nicknamed TECLA (Technology + Clay), the 3D-printed structure built in the tiny town of Massa Lombarda in Northern Italy is the first of its kind in the world.

The project takes inspiration from the 1972 Italian novel “Invisible Cities” by Italo Calvino, whose story includes a city in a never-ending state of construction.

TECLA aims to honor mankind’s timeless connection to their dwellings and unite those foundational themes with 21st-century modernities.

It also hopes to recognize the worsening global crisis of climate change and the need for efficient and sustainable construction systems that be used in the aftermath of natural disasters or emergencies.

If TECLA becomes a staple in the construction industry, it can provide immediate and safe housing to displaced communities.

“We like to think that TECLA is the beginning of a new story,” said Mario Cucinella, the Founder and Creative Director of Mario Cucinella Architects, which designed the unique habitat.

“It would be truly extraordinary to shape the future by transforming this ancient material with the technologies we have available today,” he said.

“The aesthetics of this house are the result of a technical and material effort; it was not an aesthetic approach only. It is an honest form, a sincere form.”

TECLA proves that it’s possible to build a house with a low to zero carbon footprint. The structure relies solely on locally-obtained raw earth materials, thereby helping eliminate waste and scraps.

The construction process of the 646 sq ft prototype structure began with blending regional soil with water and special additives.

Engineers then analyzed the terrain samples before proceeding to the printing phase of the external house structure.

A pair of synchronized printer arms, called the Crane WASP system, then worked away, simultaneously picking, mixing, and pumping materials into layers. The utilization of the giant printers removed the need for scaffolding.

Each printer can print an area of 538 sq ft, which means that a single TECLA module can be completed in 200 hours with an average energy consumption of less than 6 kW.

The first TECLA home, which comprises two round structures merged together, features an open living room with a kitchen, a bedroom nook, a small bathroom, and wardrobe storage.

It also included tables and chairs made using 3D printers. With interior furnishings already generated, occupants can move in quickly.

Both zones of the module are fitted with a dome-shaped skylight that allows natural light to pour in when the sun is shining. It also offers a great view of the starry skies when the evening comes.

Each TECLA dome features ventilation, thermo-insulation, and water collection inside the home. There is no need to install air conditioning or heating since the walls already provide insulation.

“TECLA shows that a beautiful, healthy, and sustainable home can be built by a machine, giving the essential information to the local raw material,” said WASP Founder Massimo Moretti.

“TECLA is the finger that points to the Moon. The Moon is the home, as a birth right, for everybody on the planet. From TECLA on, that’s getting possible.”

The structure is built from earth, so it can be constructed almost anywhere using local soil. The 3D printers can create different forms that can adapt to the geographical location and the climate conditions where it will be built.

“If I design a building in a hot, arid climate, I need to protect the building well and make thicker walls to ventilate it,” Cucinella explained.

Kirsten Dirksen, a YouTuber who produces videos about simple living, tiny homes, alternative transport, and more, visited the WASP site to learn more about the company’s 3D-printed eco-homes.

See more of Kirsten Dirksen’s videos on her YouTube.

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