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intricate 3D-printed sand wall decorates museum of the future in dubai

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


Dubai’s Museum of the Future introduced a new addition to its collection: a six-metre-long wall uniquely 3D-printed using sand. Showcased at the museum entrance, this innovative piece, named “Nadarra”, is the brainchild of London-based architect and researcher Barry Wark.

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

The Wall

Nadarra stands out for its intricate design and use of sustainable materials. Nadarra gives form to the evolving conversations around architecture and ecology, considering the interconnectedness of all matter in the design of an architectural surface. It does so by utilizing circular materials and 3D printing technology; celebrating the inevitability of vegetation growth and weathering on all buildings; and creating ambiguous forms that are both natural and artefactual at the same time, a reflection of our increasingly synthetic world.

Measuring three by six meters, Nadarra splts into different modules that can be easily assembled and hand-lifted.⁠ Its parts can be fabricated, installed, and then recycled up to eight times after use.

The sand wall I courtesy of Barry Wark

Sand, reimagined

Manufactured and excavated by German 3D printing design firm Sandhelden, the Nadarra project used voxeljet’s VX1000 3D printer and quartz sand, which undergoes a post-processing step called infiltration, where a liquid binder is applied to a 3D printed object to strengthen and solidify it.

Voxeljet’s VX1000 printer’s advanced capabilities are ideal for this type of project because of its large build volume, allowing for the creation of sizable structures like Wark’s wall. Additionally, its precision in binder jetting technology ensures intricate and detailed designs, crucial for the aesthetic and functional aspects of Nadarra. What’s more, the printer’s compatibility with various materials, including quartz sand, aligns perfectly with the project’s ecological focus. Using local, sustainable materials like sand voxeljet’s machine contributes to the project’s commitment to environmental responsibility.

This focus on sustainability and innovative use of materials and hardware is echoed in the broader environmental values of the Nadarra project. A key aspect of Nadarra is its focus on circular materials and the life cycle of building materials. The sand technology allows the wall to be fabricated, installed, and recycled up to eight times, minimizing waste and environmental impact. This approach not only represents a commitment to ecological sustainability but also demonstrates the potential of 3D printing in creating complex geometric forms without the need for elaborate mold-making processes.

Close-up on the wall’s details. Moss is growing across the surface I courtesy of Barry Wark

Inspired by erosion and biophilic design 

The project is designed by Barry Wark and engages with the importance of materials and their life cycles in the built environment, employing advanced 3D printing sand technology. . Nàdarra takes advantage of 3D printing’s ability to create virtually unlimited geometric possibilities without the need for complex mould making. This has further environmental benefits as it does not waste any material beyond what is used in the parts themselves during their fabrication.

Motivated by the recognition that all buildings eventually erode, stain, and weather, the project is designed to display its interconnectedness with its environment.

It moves beyond the idea of an impossibly clean architecture, creating crevices and pockets for water and seed retention that can accelerate and promote the growth and presence of non-human organisms within its surfaces. The wall forms implement biophilic design principles, such as multiscalar detail, organized complexity, and highly differentiated but similar geometries that evoke the bulging and pocketing of the moss that grows within the surface itself.

The wall installed at the Dubai Museum of the Future I courtesy of Barry Wark

Tech meets nature: a product of mistery and ambiguity

Barry Wark’s Nàdarra presents mysterious qualities as a product of the ambiguity surrounding its age, origins and fabrication process. It is striated with traces of chisel marks yet is eroded and smoothed as if by the weather. It has the stereotomy of ancient construction, but each part employs a complexity almost unimaginable to make by the human hand.

The project aims to draw people close through this engagement and questioning, bringing attention to the effects of the environment upon its surface. It considers its connection with the environment positive and attempts to break down the false duality between architecture and nature, considering the importance and beauty in the interconnectedness of all matter.

About Barry Ward

Barry Wark is a registered architect and designer who combines practice with research and teaching activities. The projects are driven by ideas of ecology and environmental enmeshment, encompassing aesthetics, circular materials and advanced computational design and fabrication tools. His work, writing and provocations in the field have been published internationally in print, media and exhibitions, most notably Nadarra, a sand 3dprinted wall that is part of the permanent collection at the Museum of the Future, Dubai. He has given lectures and workshops about his research to universities, architects, and other design disciplines such as film studios and game developers.

He is a regular invited critic at internationally renowned academic institutions in the U.S and Europe.

sources: 3Dprint I Dezeen I DesignBoom 

all images courtesy of Barry Wark

editing Barbara Marcotulli

Maker Faire Rome – The European Edition has been committed since its very first editions to make innovation accessible and usable to all, with the aim of not leaving anyone behind. Its blog is always updated and full of opportunities and inspiration for makers, makers, startups, SMEs and all the curious ones who wish to enrich their knowledge and expand their business, in Italy and abroad.

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