Sand Babel: a solar 3D-printed skyscraper made with desert twist

3d-printed tower, solar power, desert skyscraper, Sand Babel, eVolo Skyscraper 2014 competition, green design, futuristic design, sustainable design, desert architecture

An invention that 3D prints buildings using sand as a raw material? We knew that someone would put Markus Keyser’s amazing solar sinter tool to good use! This conceptual tower featured above and conceived by a team of Chinese designers imagines a cluster of towers made of sand that are constructed with a solar-powered 3D-printer.

Qiu Song, Kang Pengfei, Bai Ying, Ren Nuoya, and Guo Shen designed Babel Tower as a series of ecological structures that offer research, residential and scientific facilities in the desert. The project is comprised of two main sections.



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One section is partially buried underground and connected to other towers through a tube network – like tree roots that extend from every direction of the core and give the sand dunes the same kind of stability as dune grasses or  shrubs.

The other section soars above ground in a spiraling form to provide various facilities for a desert community.

sand-babel-twist-3d-printed

RelatedMarkus Keyser’s 3D Solar Sinter prints on sand, could replace concrete

These independent structures mimic naturally-occuring Tornadoe and Mushroom rocks to provide height, strength and stability. But its hot in the desert, and despite the sun’s power, there’s no access to the electrical grid – so the team has to rely on passive design techniques to keep residents, researchers and visitors cool.

sand babel 3d-printed

“The dual funnel model not only improves cross-ventilation, but also generates water condensation atop the structures based on temperature differences,” according to the design team’s brief on eVolo.

Albeit a mere concept, this is one of the more realistic designs that scooped an honorable mention in the 2014 eVolo Skyscraper competition – the 9th competition that challenges artists, architects and designers to imagine future towers that address a dense, energy and water-scarce world.

Of the designs, this was one of the few to envision life for desert dwellers.

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3 thoughts on “Sand Babel: a solar 3D-printed skyscraper made with desert twist”

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