Cabin prototype lets you grow a plant in each plant-based shingle


In California, two college professors-turned-entrepreneurs have developed a proof-of-concept cabin with 3D printed, biobased tiles facades.

The cabins’ tiles include recycled chardonnay grape skins from Sonoma, cement, sawdust, and coffee grounds. Each 3D-printed hexagonal tile is also a planter housing a succulent.

The interior is decorated with bioplastic tiles made from corn. The prototype was developed in response to an Oakland City Council decision to reduce restrictions on backyard cottages.

Designers Ronald Rael, professor at University of California Berkeley, and Virginia San Fratello of San Jose University, say that, unlike other 3D printed prototypes, theirs considers aesthetics. The two cofounded both additive manufacturing startup Emerging Objects and architecture studio Rael San Fratello.

“These are not just investigations into testing materials for longevity or for structure, but also a study of aesthetics. We see the future as being elegant, optimistic, and beautiful,” Rael tells The Architecture Newspaper.