Circular housing

The first model unit of the Circular house was 3d printed

World’s Advanced Saving Project (WASP) and Mario Cucinella Architects (MCA) have completed Technology and Clay (TECLA), the first eco-sustainable housing model 3D printed entirely from local raw earth.

3D Printing circular economy WASP

Houses from the 3D printer are approaching market maturity. This year alone, there have already been two milestones to report. In February, a New York start-up managed to build a house ready to move into within a week using a printer. In March, a former homeless man became the first person to move into a small home whose floor plan had been printed.

And now Wasp, an Italian company specializing in 3D printing, is delivering a success story. They were able to successfully print a prototype house in collaboration with the School of Sustainability, without needing adapted concrete or other special materials. Tecla, as the building is called, was printed from soil quarried on site in Ravenna.

Tecla is an innovative circular housing model that brings together research on vernacular construction practices, the study of bioclimatic principles and the use of natural and local materials. It is a nearly zero-emission project: its casing and the use of an entirely local material allows for the reduction of waste and scraps. This and the use of raw earth make Tecla a pioneering example of low-carbon housing.

The technological research of WASP, specialised in Km0 3D printing from raw earth, has led to an innovative 3D printing technology called Crane WASP, the first in the world to be modular and multilevel, designed to build construction works collaboratively. Tecla uses two synchronised printer arms simultaneously, thanks to software capable of optimising movements, avoiding collisions and ensuring streamlined operation. Each printer unit has a printing area of 50 square meters which therefore makes it possible to build independent housing modules in a few days.

Tecla can be delivered with 200 hours of printing, 7000 machine codes (G-code), 350 12 mm layers, 150 km of extrusion, 60 cubic meters of natural materials for an average consumption of less than 6 kW.

Aesthetically, the house is reminiscent of two igloos grown together. The architectural firm responsible for the construction, Mario Cucinella, describes it as a "cave-like" shape. A total of 350 layers, each twelve millimeters high, were printed, consuming around 60 cubic meters of earth. The average power consumption of the printer used was less than 6,000 watts.

Wasp puts the pure printing time for Tecla at 200 hours, or just over eight days. Company founder Massimo Moretti sees the project as proof that a "beautiful, healthy and sustainable home" can also be produced by a machine. He refers to a UN report from 2020, according to which the construction industry alone accounts for 28 percent of global CO2 emissions through its energy consumption.