Prōtóplasto: Re-Imagine the Use of Plastics in Architecture

The Prōtóplasto exhibition opened recently at the Futurama in Lupfig, Switzerland. The 65 m2 pavilion on display was designed and fabricated with the MAS ETH DFAB students during their one year intensive course based on the work of researchers Matthias Leschok and Marirena Kladeftira at the chair of Digital Building Technologies.

Prōtóplasto stems from the greek word “πρωτόπλαστος (prōtóplastos)” meaning “the first formed” and is a reference to the novelty of the constructive system pairing two new technologies, a novel printing method that allows the build up of polymers at rates similar to concrete extrusion and a method for support-free self-interlocking assembly of modular components based on 3D printed connections.

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This exhibition is made possible with support from industry. Halter AG is sponsoring the space and the vernissage, Castioni Kunstoffe sponsoring the tubes for the canopy and SAEKI Robotics AG allocating time in their 3D printing facility.

The current exhibition aims to introduce a new perspective on the role of plastics in architecture. It focuses on a digital fabrication process based on multiple 3D printing technologies, with the promise of moldless and waste-free construction. This innovative method allows for an easily adaptable workflow to various architectural contexts through computational design. Plastics in architecture have unique properties in terms of weight-to-strength ratio, customizable material properties, low material costs, and potential recyclability. As the structure is designed for disassembly, materials can be separated, recycled and/or reused.

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Photo credit: Andrei Jipa