07/07/2020

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This 100-square-foot tiny cabin was designed by Cornell professors using reject trees, 3D printers, and a robot arm they found on eBay

Front elevation of cabin with large window.

Andy Chen

  • Two Cornell University architecture professors designed a cabin that is partially 3D printed.

  • The design uses ash trees infected with an invasive beetle species that are not suitable for sawmills.

  • The rest of the 10-foot by 10-foot cabin is 3D printed concrete. 

  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

In Ithaca, NY, waste materials have been turned into a sustainable and futuristic tiny cabin.

Leslie Lok and Sasha Zivkovic, both assistant professors of architecture at Cornell University, are behind this project from their experimental design studio, Hannah.

The Emerald Ash Borer is an invasive beetle species that threatens ash trees in the US. The beetles make full-grown ash trees unsuitable for sawmills and construction because of the irregular shape. With this design, Hannah found a way to repurpose these trees that were previously considered waste material. The studio created a 100-square-foot prototype in rural upstate New York, and it survived its first New York winter.

Take a look at the innovative design. 

Irregularly shaped logs, like those drawn here, were sourced for the prototype.

Collection of logs sourced for the cabin.
Collection of logs sourced for the cabin.

Drawing by HANNAH

The studio found an old robot arm on eBay which was previously used by General Motors.

Robot.
Robot.

Andy Chen

The design was based around the curved wood that characterizes infected trees.

Sliced wood panel from curved log.
Sliced wood panel from curved log.

HANNAH

An early prototype showed what the wood could become.

Robotically cut facade prototype.
Robotically cut facade prototype.

HANNAH

Then, using the Robotic Construction Lab at Cornell, the robot was reprogrammed to cut and shape the wood into usable shapes.

Diagram.
Diagram.

Drawing by HANNAH

Irregularly shaped wood could be shaved into the right shape for paneling on the cabin.

Process diagram.
Process diagram.

Drawing by HANNAH

“Infested ash trees are a very specific form of waste material; and our inability to contain the blight has made them so abundant that we can — and should develop strategies to use them as a material” Zivkovic said.

Cabin corner.
Cabin corner.

Andy Chen

“Infested ash trees often either decompose or are burned for energy. Unfortunately, both scenarios release CO2 into the atmosphere,” Zivkovic said.

Northeast corner of cabin.
Northeast corner of cabin.

Andy Chen

The natural curvature of the wood is used to highlight certain points of the design, like the four windows.

Side profile of cabin.
Side profile of cabin.

Andy Chen

Keeping elements of the wood’s natural shape also nods to its origins.

Interior of the cabin.
Interior of the cabin.

Andy Chen

Detailing on the door is rustic, while the overall design is modern.

Door detail.
Door detail.

Andy Chen

Designers used concrete to complement the wood and complete the design.

View of chimney, door, and awning.
View of chimney, door, and awning.

Andy Chen

The concrete chimney, part of a working fireplace, is the most prominent feature of the exterior.

Northwest corner with chimney.
Northwest corner with chimney.

Andy Chen

The 3D printer, here, was used by designers for all the concrete elements.

Top view of 3D printer.
Top view of 3D printer.

Reuben Chen

All the concrete used in the cabin was 3D printed at the Cornell lab.

Drone photo construction.
Drone photo construction.

Reuben Chen

Concrete is one of the most commonly used construction materials, and concrete production is responsible for some CO2 emissions.

Southeast view of the cabin.
Southeast view of the cabin.

Andy Chen

“By using 3D printing, we eliminate the use of wasteful formwork and can deposit concrete smartly and only where structurally necessary, reducing its use considerably while also maintaining a building’s integrity” Lok said.

3D printed concrete structure.
3D printed concrete structure.

Andy Chen

3D printed concrete legs elevate the cabin to adjust to a sloped landscape.

On-site construction.
On-site construction.

Reuben Chen

The texture legs are shown here.

Underside of legs.
Underside of legs.

Reuben Chen

Concrete floor tiles have a similar pattern.

3D printed concrete floor tiles.
3D printed concrete floor tiles.

Reuben Chen

Inside, there is a concrete table and a storage seat.

Interior of cabin.
Interior of cabin.

Andy Chen

A long bench is made from the same material as the window frames and can be extended into a bed if needed.

Interior of cabin.
Interior of cabin.

Andy Chen

The 21-foot-tall fireplace sits in one corner, next to some shelving and a small sink.

Interior of cabin.
Interior of cabin.

Andy Chen

The wood facade is already ventilated, so it’s prepared for rain and snow.

Side of door.
Side of door.

Andy Chen

Over time, the wood will darken and turn a shade of grey, better blending with the concrete.

Drone photo of cabin in forest landscape.
Drone photo of cabin in forest landscape.

HANNAH

Designers believe that this prototype could be a look at the future of home construction and sustainability.

Front of cabin.
Front of cabin.

Andy Chen

Read the original article on Business Insider

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