The Bridge project is not just about 3D printing. It is about the possibilities you get, once you enter this whole new world. The new world that consists of 3D printers, parametric software, the link between them and all the consequences that this entails.
My goal is to design and 3D print more beautiful and surprising buildings and architectural objects. To bring back ‘poetry’ into bridges and tunnels.
Since a few years, here at the studio we keep wondering what you could do with a 3D printer that you could not do any other way. Egg is an example, Bob’s your Uncle is an example and now we are looking at and researching what we could do with a concrete 3D printer that hasn’t been done yet in a regular way. It is a thin line. We could do something very peculiar, but that gives me the feeling of doing a trick. I don’t want that. No, what we did is, choosing a shape that would be almost impossible to make with a regular method. A shape that has its equivalent in Nature. The legs seem to merge into the deck, the way a branch would grow out of a tree. Only material where it is needed. Just the way any shape would evolve in nature over time.
Besides, the whole process, the disruptive way of working 3D printing promises is very interesting. Most concrete bridges are being built with the help and support of moulds. This usually means we can not work with a lot of variety; moulds are expensive to make.
With 3D printing you don’t use moulds. It can be rather flexible from the one part to another but also with bridges as a whole.
Try to imagine, this is what we discuss now a lot, that a highly complex parametric model (See it as a recipe) is made of the bridge. It is not the bridge itself. It starts with a design of course, but the design is not set in stone, it is connected with all aspects that will influence the bridge like loads, strength, the way the bridge will be used, by car, by pedestrians or bicycles, the condition of the ground and so on. All calculations are in the same model.
This way, designers are able to no longer just design this one model that can only be placed at one spot. The designer will be the one that writes the recipe, not the one that cooks.
Now, a 13 meters bridge, used by cars will have different dimensions, different and maybe more legs, bigger legs also but is undeniably family of the 29 meter bicycle bridge we work on right now. All we have to do is fill in the proper values and another bridge ‘will be born’. And we can 3D print it, the way we printed the other bridge. Isn’t that something?
The most exciting thing is still to happen. It is not when the bridge will be 3Dprinted and placed, athough super cool. No it is the moment when the receipe proves to be working.