3D Construction Printing - A New Generation of Infrastructure?

Ben Harries is an expert in Additive Manufacturing

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Traditional ‘grey’ infrastructure is typically unsympathetic to, and in many ways incompatible with, the natural environment. Vast expanses of hard, inhospitable surfaces disrupt ecosystems and reduce biodiversity and generally degrade the environment, whilst doing little or nothing to compensate for it. The gathering momentum of Nature Based Solutions (NBS) or Blue-Green Infrastructure (BGI) in civil engineering in recent years can be seen as, at least in part, an acknowledgement of this. As infrastructure continues to encroach on natural habitats, it seems clear that some additional sensitivity is needed.

3D Construction Printing (3DCP, alternatively known as 3D Concrete Printing) presents opportunities to produce a new generation of infrastructure which is more compatible with natural environments and offsets the negative impact that infrastructure has on biodiversity and habitat. The ability of these technologies to produce advanced geometries with relative ease provides the opportunity to incorporate habitat features, such as nesting spaces, within the fabric of infrastructure elements and even building facades. Our work with the amazing team at Resting Reef (pictured above) really emphasised to us how manipulating geometries, surface textures and employing novel materials can boost bio-receptivity by providing a suitable substrate for the attachment and growth flora and fauna.

There are a growing number of examples of 3D printing being used to create bio-receptive elements, such as oyster and coral reefs, which are proving successful at hosting their target species. 

What do you think, are there opportunities for infrastructure to promote biodiversity? If you have thoughts on this area, we would love to hear from you!

Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

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Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

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Ben Harries

Head of Additive Manufacture

Ben leads the Additive Manufacturing segment of the business. As an Architect he developed a talent for creative problem-solving, which he draws upon when engaging with clients and stakeholders to develop innovative solutions which leverage the benefits of digital design and fabrication.

2023-12-11 15:16:00