Barry Wark uses sand to make “most intricate 3D-printed wall ever”

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The Museum of the Future in Dubai has unveiled a six-metre-long 3D-printed wall made from sand by architect and researcher Barry Wark.

Wark said the project, called Nadarra, is the “most intricate 3D-printed wall ever manufactured”.

The wall is installed at the Museum of the Future in Dubai

He believes sand-printing technology, which is already used in car manufacturing, could be a game changer for the construction industry.

“In time, I envision we can create interiors, facades and even structural elements with this technology due to its load-bearing capabilities and potential durability,” Wark told Dezeen.

The structure is formed of 3D-printed sand

A smaller version of Nadarra was first exhibited as part of the Museum of the Future‘s launch exhibition Tomorrow Today, curated by Gonzalo Herrero Delicado, which opened in February 2022.

The construction has now been extended to a size of three-by-six metres for the museum’s permanent collection.

The wall has a unique aesthetic thanks to the intricate 3D textures that form its surfaces.

The surfaces emulate natural erosion processes

Wark used generative AI software to design these 3D surfaces, emulating natural erosion processes.

The designer said he wanted to highlight how, in the face of the Anthropocene, the line between natural and human-made is increasingly blurring.

“The project explores qualities of ambiguity in form, texture and material that operate between the natural and the artifactual, attempting to highlight that these categories may no longer be so easily defined,” he said.

The wall was assembled from tessellating “jigsaw panels”

The wall was assembled from a series of 3D-printed “jigsaw panels”. These were produced using binder-jet printing, a process that involves adding a liquid binding agent into the thin layers of printed particles.

Wark believes this form of 3D printing offers the most potential in desert countries like those in the Middle East.


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“This technology has the potential to bind together a variety of sands and gravels into architectural elements,” he explained.

“This has particular relevance for the UAE as it might allow the region to utilise local materials in the design and construction of their cities in the future, creating a more ecological building practice.”

According to Wark, the wall can be ground down and reprinted up to eight times without compromising its structural integrity.

The pieces were made using a process of binder-jet printing

When Nadarra was first shown in 2022, it was in the form of a planted wall. Preserved moss was installed in gaps within the surface, to suggest how real plants could inhabit the wall in a natural environment.

The moss has since been removed, partly for reasons relating to long-term maintenance in the museum environment.

Wark believes the design has more resonance without the plants, which he thinks could be construed as greenwashing.

The wall can be ground down and reprinted up to eight times

“The wall celebrates the beauty of nature in the UAE biome, which is not highly vegetated,” he suggested.

“I think this is significant as it creates more contextual approaches to ecological design and avoids the dangerous trope of greenwashing in regions where it might not be appropriate.”

Wark is not the only designer exploring the potential of sand-printing. Other built examples include an installation in Saudi Arabia by Precht and Mamou-Mani Architects.

The post Barry Wark uses sand to make “most intricate 3D-printed wall ever” appeared first on Dezeen.

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