Additive Ecologies: Apartment Living in the Age of 3d-Printing
3M futureLAB with UCLA Architecture & Urban Design 2013

2013 Studio 
Sponsored by EOS + SCE + HM
3M futureLAB is a UCLA Architecture and Urban Design traveling architecture studio based in Munich, Germany. As an alternative to a more insular studio experience, FutureLAB functions as a shared platform for interdisciplinary discourse at the intersection of architecture, art, engineering and culture. As such, students are asked not only contribute their own visions for future architectures, but also to engage a select group of engineers, artists, manufacturers, writers, and designers from Bavaria and the surrounding region into a discussion about the undiscovered possibilities at the leading-edge of their own respective fields. This ongoing ‘discussion’ will take place in a series of seminars and workshops as we attempt to place each new idea into a broader context – mining them for potential cross-disciplinary collaboration and design innovation.
In conjunction with this research, students will develop new concepts for architecture that are truly informed, innovative, transferable, and relevant to the development of our discipline.
In 1986, an inventor and engineer named Charles Hull filed U.S. Patent 4,575,330, entitled “Apparatus for Production of Three-Dimensional Objects by Stereolithography”. Using technology developed a decade earlier for inkjet printing, Hull defined stereolithography as a method for making physical objects by successively ‘printing’ thin layers of material one on top of the other. Of course we know now that Mr. Hull and his '3d printer' would go on to give birth to an entirely new paradigm of digital fabrication and lay the groundwork for a multi-billion dollar industry. 3d printing has democratized the process of manufacturing, broken down our perceptions of intellectual property, and has caused us to shift our notions about construction from an industrial-era model of ‘assembly’ to a far more naturalistic process of performance and ‘material ecology’.
As architects we know intuitively that this technology represents something big; a breakthrough for our generation as important as the introduction of the Bessamer process over 150 years ago. However, in practice we've only begun to scratch the surface of its potential application. We are accustomed to using 3d printing for prototyping architectural ideas at scale, but what about printing the architecture itself? How could this change the nature of construction and the logic of architectural form? How could it define new relationships between the body and architecture? How could it change the we live and interact one with another?
In futureLAB 2013, we will attempt to answer these questions with an approach based on interdisciplinary collaboration and discourse. Rather than proposing only a specific design solution, the students will be asked to generate concepts that are prototypical in nature; providing a new understanding of how 3d printing can be used to generate structures, ecologies, formal logics, materialities, and modes for living that take full advantage of this process.
This year futureLAB will be collaborating with students from the Strascheg Center for Entrepreneurship and the Hochschule München (Munich University of Applied Sciences). These students come from a range of disciplines including robotics, chemistry, physics, machinery, and business. All students will be put into project ‘teams’ which will include members from all three institutions. Each team should take full advantage of the diverse set of backgrounds to create proposals that are not only relevant to the discipline of architecture, but also meaningful in terms of technology, business, fabrication, etc. Your ability to ‘sell’ your concept in a holistic way will be just as important as the design itself!
We are also excited to be sponsored this year by the owner of EOS (http://www.eos.info/en) Mr. Langer who will be providing their expertise and equipment. EOS is a or the leading manufacturer of 3d printing equipment and is internationally recognized as an innovator in the field. Working in collaboration with some people at EOS, the project teams will try to fabricate prototypes, inventing cutting-edge 3d-printing equipment and will have the chance to consult directly with members of the EOS engineering staff regarding their concepts.
A key component of FutureLAB is its extensive lecture series featuring renowned guests from a broad range of design-related disciplines. In the past such lecturers have included Stefan Behnisch, Chris Bangle, Kazuyo Sejima, Marcos Cruz, Nieto Sobijano, Edouard Francois, etc. As opposed to the large events usually hosted at UCLA, these lectures will most often be small and informal; allowing the students the chance speak with the guests directly about their design process, the studio topic, or general questions about the students’ own projects.
As a special highlight, this year Peter Ebner will be hosting a symposium in Austria at Zumthor’s Kunsthaus Bregenz entitled ‘SEISMOGRAPHEN DER ARCHITECKTUR - From Model to Reality’. This symposium will be quite large and open to the public. The FutureLAB students will have the chance to interact one-on-one with the speakers on an informal basis after the event.


Peter Ebner