3D printed architectural design

3D printed architectural design meets eco-charity

  • Written by Lana Lozova
    Dec 20, 2016

To celebrate Sir David Attenborough’s 90th birthday year, Timothy Hatton Architects have created an intricate Christmas installation, made entirely from 3D printed, 100% recycled components. This project not only highlights the importance of protecting our natural environment; it also demonstrates just how beautiful 3D printing can be.

The project

Timothy Hatton Architects, one of London’s most well-known architectural firms, has created an intricate, triple-height Christmas installation in the Aqua Shard Restaurant, to mark Sir David Attenborough’s 90th birthday year. Using recycled materials, the 3D printed piece highlights how we can all reduce our impact on Earth’s fragile ecosystem.

The project seeks to raise funds for Fauna and Flora International, who will use the proceeds to save endangered habitats and species across the world. Sir David Attenborough has been a member of the charity for nearly 60 years, and is one of its most passionate advocates.

When we first investigated 3D printing it was clear that the 3D printing industry would be technologically disruptive and would put further pressure on the environment. Finding environmentally friendly plastics was key to helping champion 3D printing and all it could achieve.

The art installation

The installation is the high-impact centrepiece at Aqua Shard in London. It features 3,000 intricately 3D printed leaf skeletons, depicting five species of threatened British trees, including the English Oak, Silver Birch and Field Maple. The piece, which is nine meters long, cascades down three stories within the restaurant; underlining the beauty of the British countryside and the importance of preserving it.

Remarkably, all 3D printed elements of the installation were created using 100% recycled plastic, generated from household waste, which otherwise would have ended up as landfill. It was designed by Timothy Hatton Architects, and each leaf will be sold to raise money for the charity.

3D printed installation
3D printing in eco projects

3D printing and eco-responsibility

By using 3D printing in this way, Aqua Shard’s guests can not only appreciate the art itself, but the possibilities of working artistically with recycled materials.

Sir David Attenborough sums up the impact of the project: “Timothy Hatton’s installation at the Aqua Shard captures wonderfully the fragility of nature, the beauty found in its diversity and the need to reflect on the impacts of our own behaviour and of our ‘throwaway’ society – particularly at this time of year. I am delighted too that the proceeds from the installation will support Fauna & Flora International – an organisation that is working tirelessly to hold back the tide of extinctions and preserve our planet’s biodiversity.”

How was it made?

The leaves were made using ObjectForm’s ‘mini manufacturing farm’ of 16 Ultimaker 2 3D printers, working in tandem to get the installation completed on time.

3D printing leaves with Ultimaker 2

Scott Knowles of ObjectForm comments: “When we first investigated 3D printing it was clear that the 3D printing industry would be technologically disruptive and would put further pressure on the environment. Finding environmentally friendly plastics was key to helping champion 3D printing and all it could achieve. We chose Ultimakers because of their reliability, speed and precision to detail in addition to the Cura software.”

Click here to find out more about this inspirational installation, and learn how you can push the boundaries of your art with 3D printing today!
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