Some architects dream of 3D–printing houses. Some even fantasise about 3D–printing entire cities. But what is the real potential of 3D printing for architects? This issue focuses on another strand of 3D–printing practice emerging among architects operating at a much smaller scale that is potentially more significant. Several architects have been working with the fashion industry to produce some exquisitely designed 3D–printed wearables. Other architects have been 3D–printing food, jewellery and other items at the scale of the human body. But what is the significance of this work? And how do these 3D–printed body–scale items relate to the discipline of architecture? Are they merely a distraction from the real business of the architect? Or do they point towards a new form of proto–architecture like furniture, espresso makers and pavilions before them that tests out architectural ideas and explores tectonic properties at a smaller scale? Or does this work constitute an entirely new arena of design? In other words, is 3D printing at the human scale to be seen as a new genre of ′body architecture′? This issue contains some of the most exciting work in this field today, and seeks to chart and analyse its significance.
Contributors include: Paola Antonelli/MoMA, Francis Bitonti, Niccolo Casas, Behnaz Farahi, Madeline Gannon, Eric Goldemberg/MONAD Studio, Kyle von Hasseln/3D Systems Culinary Lab, Rem D Koolhaas, Julia K??rner, Neil Leach, Steven Ma/Xuberance, Neri Oxman/MIT Media Lab, Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello, Gilles Retsin, Jessica Rosenkrantz/Nervous System, and Patrik Schumacher/Zaha Hadid Architects.
Neil Leach is a theorist and registered architect. He is currently Professor at the European Graduate School, Visiting Professor at Harvard GSD, FIU and Tongji University, and a NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts Fellow. Leach is the editor of 4 books published by Wiley, including the recently published AD, Space Architecture: The New Frontier for Design Research. Overall he has published 27 books. He is currently working on a research project funded by NASA to develop a robotic fabrication technology to print structures on the Moon and Mars.
Behnaz Farahi is an architect, 3D printing expert and interaction designer, exploring the potential of interactive environments and their relationship to the human body).She has worked with leading firms such as Autodesk, Fuksas Studio, and 3DSystems/ will–i–am and collaborated on two NASA–funded research projects. She is currently an Artist in Residence at Autodesk, Pier 9, and an Annenberg Fellow and PhD candidate in Interdisciplinary Media Arts and Practice at USC School of Cinematic Arts.