VULCAN is the world’s largest 3D-printed architectural pavilion and recently was showcased at this year’s fifth Beijing Design Week. It was developed by Beijing’s Laboratory for Creative Design (LCD) using innovative, biomimetic design and construction techniques for a large scale structure.
The project’s name VULCAN comes from Latin, and is also the name of the Roman god of fire. In English, the name means “volcano”. The pavilion itself resembles a mushroom cloud from an erupted volcano, while up close, it rather resembles a very intricate spider’s web.
Although man-made and 3D-printed, VULCAN’s overall structure feels strangely organic and in a way biomorphic, especially when viewed from afar. It is perhaps not too surprising to learn that the architectural forms of the pavilion developed from LCD’s long-term research into the biological structure of cocoons. The arched curvilinear shape of the pavilion, which may resemble an elastic membrane at a distance, is actually on closer inspection, made up of numerous smaller triangular panels and millions of web-like filaments.
Constructed by more than 1000 different 3D-printed elements that were printed by 20 different large-scale 3D printers, VULCAN was built over the course of 30 days. It was then assembled on site in 12 days by a team of 15 people at Beijing’s new Parkview Green complex. Measuring 9.08 meters long and standing 2.88 meters tall, VULCAN currently holds the Guinness World Record for the largest 3D-printed structure.
It is a landmark achievement that further helps us understand how 3D printing technology can be used for the construction of large-scale buildings through innovative fabrication methodologies. And perhaps more importantly, it is an exciting technological feat that brings the future of architecture and art even closer together.