TECLA, the house made of clay that takes us back to the past


La Cuisine International
© Mario Cucinell Architects


TECLA, the house made of clay with 3D technology is one of the many prototype homes that’ll surprise us in the future, taking us back to the past. The project developed in Italy by Mario Cucinella Architects is described by its creators as a new form of organic, low-carbon and biodegradable housing, built from the clay found on the terrain, which translates into a significant potential in terms of providing constructions in a short time.


The TECLA (Technology and Clay) project aims at the construction of a group of futuristic dome-shaped houses to be located in Bologna, Italy. Once the prototype is completed, the plans include manufacturing using WASP, the Italian specialists in large-scale 3D printing.


The basis of this innovative architectural approach is a system of 3D printers that mechanically place layer over layer of clay made of locally sourced natural materials. Another interesting detail about the construction of TECLA is the fact that the houses built under this proposal don’t generate waste, since all the building materials assembled in the structure can be easily recycled.


This means that once completed, this house will be the first to be built with these materials and using this manufacturing process. Besides, it’ll be the first to be produced by multiple 3D printers working on the same structure.


Eco-friendly architecture for the collective


One of the great promises of the TECLA project is the construction of mass-produced eco-housing. According to the representatives of Mario Cucinella Architects, the idea is to use this architectural proposal both to offer housing solutions to low-income communities and to provide a solution to the growing need for emergency shelter manufacturing around the world.


Mario Cucinella Architects explains that thanks to the collaboration with WASP and the use of several 3D printers that worked on-site, they were able to complete the 60-square-meters from 60-cubic-meters of layered extruded land in just 200 hours. “From the beginning of the printing process, the structure of the vaulted house is self-supporting. No scaffolding is needed for its construction. And both internally and externally, the unique and organic quality of its design creates a visually coherent architecture.”


Another important point in favor of TECLA is the fact that its proposal optimizes the composition of the mixture of land used, in direct response to local climatic conditions. “This means that the structure of the wall, and therefore its appearance, will be different depending on where the house is printed,” the architects explain.


La Cuisine International
© Mario Cucinell Architects


Can the future take us back to the past?

It’s difficult to imagine a house made of clay because the first thing that comes to mind is the perishable quality of the sandcastles we used to make during our childhood. However, TECLA is something else.


Externally, TECLA is a house composed of two domes built at ground level, with a skylight that offers light and natural heating. On the inside, there’s a living room, a bedroom, and a bathroom. And WASP has produced built-in-furniture using the same 3D technique to make sure the house owners can use it right away.


According to the design team of Mario Cucinella Architects, the successful construction of TECLA means that this model can also work in other environments. The project’s partner WASP has created a “starter kit for the manufacturer’s economics” that will help others recreate this sustainable design even on a much larger scale, as an entire city of structures without generating waste.


Finally, the team at the studio Mario Cucinella Architects indicates that TECLA is a new construction paradigm in itself, the basis of a new sustainable way of life on our planet. “The solutions to many of the problems our planet is facing can be found on the Earth itself, or even in the history of the first human beings who interacted with it.”


Now the question is, would you live in a house made of clay? Don’t answer right away, let’s wait and see where the future takes us.


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