Digital Grotesque – The Camera Forum®
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Digital Grotesque

Digital Grotesque

Digital Grotesque . Printing Architecture from Digital Grotesque on Vimeo.

Digital Grotesque is the first human-scale immersive space entirely constructed out of 3D printed sandstone. Yep, you read that right, it is a human-scale space “printed” as a room.  And not just an ordinary room, either.  Now, how cool is that?  The “room” design consists of two individual halves (Aediculae) that form a volume – what the designers call “the grotto” – as a habitat space in the middle.  While on the outside the grotto presents itself as a flat cubical volume, on the inside a complex geometry, consisting of millions of individual facets awaits the amazed grotto visitors.

"The Grotto" Source:

“The Grotto” Source:

The grotto was designed and 100% detailed using custom developed computer algorithms. Final output printing is accomplished at a resolution of a tenth of a millimeter to dimensions of a 3.2-meter high, 16 square meter large room.

Since this “print” is a first of its kind as architectural high-resolution 3D Print, innovative construction details had to be invented before it could be constructed. To facilitate the transportation and the assembly of the massive construction, a modular system of individual, prefabricated sandstone bricks with specific printed details was developed. 3D-Printing as fabrication process allows the planning of three-dimensional details in an unknown consistency and precision, while at the same time offering the possibility to develop customized constructions on demand and at a cost previously either impossible to build or so costly that nobody could afford to undertake the construction.

So in reality, what Digital Grotesque foreshadows is a revolution in custom building and set construction.  One day soon, the architect will draw up your building plans and print you out a 3D scale model.  You approve the plans, then simply have the full size printer show up at your construction site with a pre-determined number of truckloads of sand.  A few hours later, the outer shell of your sandstone “house” or movie castle is ready for paint and finish.

Or how about this?  You finish your pre-planning movie production session, the art director goes home and does up a design.  The construction crew brings in the 3D printer and the requisite trucks of sand, and presto, it is Cinderella’s Castle in no time at all.  Take down and clean up is as simple as grinding up the building & hauling off the reconstituted sand.  This technology would be wonderful for a remake of The Mummy!

Please visit for a further description and more information.

Michael Hansmeyer
Benjamin Dillenburger

Partners and Sponsors:
• Chair for CAAD, Prof. Hovestadt, ETH Zurich
• Department of Architecture, ETH Zurich
• voxeljet AG
• FRAC Centre
• Strobel Quarzsand GmbH
• Pro Helvetia

Research for the Digital Grotesque project was carried out at the Chair for CAAD at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich. All components were printed by voxeljet AG. The first part of Digital Grotesque is a commission by FRAC Centre for its permanent collection.

Fabrication Team:
Maria Smigielska, Miro Eichelberger, Yuko Ishizu, Jeanne Wellinger, Tihomir Janjusevic, Nicolás Miranda Turu, Evi Xexaki, Akihiko Tanigaito

Video & Photo:
Demetris Shammas, Achilleas Xydis

“Flicker” by Origamibiro (



Chuck Jones

Digital Media Producer, Photographer, Video Storyteller, Cinemagraph Master. Only Semi-Reformed Hippy. Managing Editor of http://TheCameraForum.Com

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