A freestanding, unreinforced pedestrian bridge built from 3D-printed concrete blocks is now open in Venice. Although Striatus doesn’t carry pedestrians over one of the city’s famed canals, this first-of-its-kind structure is now open for park-bound traversing at the leafy Giardino Della Marinaressa during the run of the 2021 Venice Architecture Biennale.
The project was developed by ETH Zürich’s Block Research Group in collaboration with the Zaha Hadid Architects Computation and Design Group (ZHACODE) with the Incremental3D company. Moreover, the project was made possible due to the concrete ink developed by Holcim.
“This precise method of 3D concrete printing allows us to combine the principles of traditional vaulted construction with digital concrete fabrication to use material only where it is structurally necessary without producing waste,” explains Philippe Block, a scientist from ETH Zurich.
According to Zaha Hadid Architects, the current construction project is a blend of ancient architectural practices and contemporary computational design. The name “Striatus” is a reference to the structural logic of the construction process. The bridge is, in fact, composed of pieces assembled dry and constructed through subsequent layers of unreinforced concrete.
“Striatus stands on the shoulders of giants: it revives ancestral techniques of the past, taking the structural logic of the 1600s into the future with digital computation, engineering and robotic manufacturing technologies,” says Bhooshan, a researcher at Zaha Hadid Architects.
The 12 by 16-metre pedestrian bridge is a real architecture in all senses, allowing researchers at the ETH Zürich to concretely show the potential of 3D printing in the realisation of load-bearing structures in concrete.
Also, if the bridge is no longer needed in the future, the assembly method could disassemble the structure and reassemble it in a different place or recycle it. The structure is currently located at the Giardini Della Marinaressa as part of the Venice Architecture Biennale. It will remain there until November 2021.
The structure resembles another 3D-printed bridge recently installed over a canal in Amsterdam. The 3D steel structure was initially made in a factory in 2018 and installed this month.
Undoubtedly, the 3D bridge is built with a method that has the potential to radically transform how today’s concrete buildings are designed.