Digital Grotesque – A Beautiful Algorithmically “Designed” 3D Printed Room


What if, instead of building a house, you could simply print it out like a piece of paper?

Would you print yourself a classic Victorian mansion, or something more contemporary? Perhaps you might choose to do something really crazy, like allow a computer to design it using a set of algorithms. We can do that now, did you know that? Using computers and a massive 3D printer that uses sand, a person can create entire rooms. Yes, a group of designers and architects have done just that, and they’re calling their project Digital Grotesque.

Creating the Digital Grotesque

Architects Michael Hansmeyer and Benjamin Dillenburger describe their project as such…

“Digital Grotesque is the first fully immersive, solid, human-scale, enclosed structure that is entirely 3D printed out of sand.”

The entire room is 16square meters, and when you consider that the entire space was printed – and using sand no less – well, I think you’ll agree that they’ve accomplished something pretty amazing. So sit back, enjoy the video, and then we’ll talk about it a little bit more in about 2 minutes time.

I’m somewhat reluctant to call this art, but after a bit of reflection, I believe that’s exactly what it is. The space isn’t quite functional, but it’s certainly an incredible sight to behold. The algorithmic design reminds me of the works of H. R. Giger, the mastermind behind the Alien aesthetic. If you’ve seen the movies, then you’ve seen his work. He also happens to have designed an incredible looking bar, which I’ve written about in depth.

huge 3d printed room

At a resolution of a tenth of a millimeter, the details of this room are, well… extremely detailed. I really wish I had some better close up, high resolution photos to share with you. Perhaps these guys will eventually post more up on their project website.

giger 3d printed room

Art created by humans is often beautiful, there’s no doubt about that. We’ve been doing it for thousands upon thousands of years, and I think it’s fair to say we’ve created at least a few good pieces during that time. But there’s something wholly different and somehow eerie about so called computer art. When we leave art and design to the world of computers and math, we get this… insect like creations of striking beauty and complexity.


  1. Tim Cooper says

    “Insect-like” is right. Social insects like bees and ants have basically evolved into the paths of least resistance in their structures, and these paths are mathematically predictable. Honeycomb, for example, is made up of hexagonal prisms because it’s the most efficient 3D tesselation for volume enclosed for structural mass (barring stacked spheres, which leave unusable space between them). It thus makes sense, in a way, that certain algorithms would produce similar results.

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