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Incan Techniques Inspire Safer Columns

Friday, September 26, 2014

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Taking a cue from ancient masons, an architectural design duo has turned out an ultra-modern column that is both seismically stable and 3D-printed.

The Quake Column is the brainchild of Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello, the married founders of Oakland, CA-based Rael San Fratello and its subsidiary, Emerging Objects.

Using sand as the printing material, the six-foot-tall columns are comprised of interlocking pieces that diffuse the force of seismic activity, an architectural method based on Incan ashlar techniques.

Incan Principles

Each "stone" is lightweight, hollow and numbered to designate its specific place in the construction sequence.

Quake Column
Photos: Emerging Objects

Using sand as the printing material, the columns are comprised of interlocking pieces that diffuse the force of seismic activity, a method based on Incan ashlar techniques.

The pieces also have handles so that they can easily be moved and placed into position.

"The interlocking stone of Incan structures creates an absence of resonant frequencies and stress concentration points," the website explains.

"The dry-stone walls built by the Incas could move slightly during an earthquake and resettle without the walls collapsing, a passive structural control technique employing both the principle of energy dissipation and that of suppressing resonant amplifications."

About the Team

Rael is an associate professor of architecture at the University of California, Berkeley; San Fratello is an assistant professor at San Jose University in the School of Art & Design.

Emerging Objects

Each piece is numbered and has a handle for easy positioning during construction.

The team says its studio "disrupts the conventions of architecture by tackling topics not typically of interest to architects."


Tagged categories: 3D printing; Architects; Building design; Building Envelope; Building science; North America

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (9/26/2014, 8:23 AM)

Wow, that’s really neat! Would be interested in comparing load capacity compared to a conventional cast-in-place column of similar size.

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