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'Echoviren' - The Biodegradable Home Of The Future

The world’s very first full-size architectural structure has been created using seven basic 3D desktop printers. It took 10,800 hours and two whole months to complete the 10’ x 10’ x 8’ pavilion and four days for on-site assembly using the snap-together components.

The ‘Echoviren’, as the structure is called, is made from a plant-based bio-plastic material. The idea is that the whole thing will gradually decompose before vanishing altogether in 30 to 50 years’ time. Meanwhile, it will provide a habitat for wildlife in the Mendocino County redwood forest in which it is located. The actual texture of the components for the Echoviren is based on the cellular structure of the trees surrounding it. These cells allow the trees maximum strength whilst requiring minimum volume, and coincidentally this natural pattern also works well with FDM-style printers. The cleverly designed open-topped, igloo-like structure is self-supporting and remarkably stable.

What makes this project fundamentally different from previous architectural pieces is that, according to Echoviren’s architect and designer Bryan Allen, aggregation was employed as the construction system. Most proposed 3D printed architecture projects revolve around using really large scale printers which is not only extremely expensive but also incredibly tricky logistically. Using readily available desktop type printers to produce smaller, precisely engineered components would appear to be the way to go for future projects. The process basically adheres to traditional architectural assemblage and construction principles but requires a total rethink of the design method. Effectively, this successful project paves the way for exciting new developments in 3D printed architecture.

The architects responsible for the structure now have their sights set on much bigger projects including a retail interior and a large scale urban project in San Francisco in the next few years. They want to really push the envelope of what’s now possible utilising 3D printing and to see the transition of this technology from a geeky toy to an industrial tool which will revolutionise the whole construction and design industry.

In conclusion

Eventually, whole cities could be built using 3D printed components in a variety of recycled materials. Landfill sites, natural resource stripping, and housing shortages could even be consigned to the history books. This might sound like the stuff of science fiction but if technology continues to develop at its current rapid pace, anything’s possible. Watch this space.

Image source: Gratisography


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Alison Page

About Alison Page

Alison is a small business owner, freelance writer, author and dressage judge. She has degrees in Equine Science and Business Studies. Read her full story at

Alison Page

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