This 3D Printed Sustainable Cabin Gives New Life to “Waste” Wood

published Nov 11, 2020
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Credit: HANNAH

Situated in a forest in Ithaca, New York, an unusually shaped cabin stands that is made of upcycled waste wood and 3D printed concrete. The architectural prototype known as Ashen Cabin comes from HANNAH, an experimental design and research studio also based in Ithaca.

The project page on the studio’s website explains that “by implementing high precision 3D scanning and robotic based fabrication technology,” they have turned emerald ash borer-infested waste wood into “an abundantly available, affordable, and sustainable building material.” And designboom details that Ashen Cabin demonstrates how new manufacturing methods can turn things we perceive as waste into something useful.

“Infested ash trees often either decompose or are burned for energy,” Sasa Zivkovic, co-principal of HANNAH, told designboom. “Unfortunately, both scenarios release CO2 into the atmosphere, and so the advantage to using compromised ash for construction is that it both binds the carbon to the earth and offsets the harvesting of more commonly used wood species.” 

Credit: HANNAH
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The base, floor, chimney, and interior fixtures of the cabin were created from nine interlocking 3D printed concrete pieces. For the facade, the team repurposed a six-axis robot that they bought off eBay and used it to slice the waste wood logs into appropriately sized pieces. The overall effect is striking, with the wood-lined interiors and large windows bringing nature into the space and echoing the eco-friendly ethos of the structure.

“From the ground up, digital design and fabrication technologies are intrinsic to the making of this architectural prototype, facilitating fundamentally new material methods, tectonic articulations, and forms of construction,” the HANNAH site states. The explanatory section is followed by a series of photos of Ashen Cabin (both the interior and exterior) plus renderings and detailed diagrams, with a list of collaborators at the bottom of the page.