3D printing and design at SPINN Arkitekter

At SPINN Arkitekter, 3D modeling is an integrated and important part of our design process. We believe in using the right tools (digital or otherwise) to be better designers and to help ourselves and our clients understand their buildings. We often design while discussing our ideas around physical models in foam or cardboard, sketching ideas on trace paper, tweaking plans over each other's shoulders in 2D, and form-finding through 3D modeling. These days our primary tool for CAD drawing is Archicad 17, a drawing package that we are generally quite pleased with. The ability to export straight to .STL (stereolithography files) in Archicad 17 has made it easier to use the office's Makerbot Replicator2 to print out iterations of forms, and to supplement model making by hand.

Last week at the office we focused on the shape and design of the Kultursal for New Harestad School. The rest of the design had evolved nicely since the sketch design phase, but the final form and shape of the Kultursal needed some TLC from the team. In a group effort architects from SPINN and Alliance Arkitekter tested a series of shapes and designs to help us distill the concept find the best fit. Initial foam model sketches were translated into Archicad morphs. The morphs were tweaked and shared among the team, discussing their various merits on Basecamp. Toward the end of the week we started 3D printing the models such that they could be compared and held physically. On one particular day 4 different versions were 3D printed, each one slightly better than the last. The physical models made it easy for us to agree on the final form during our team meeting on monday. During the meeting we also printed extra copies to send home with our colleages in Stavanger. In all my years of working with 3D printing and modelling, this was the smoothest and quickest turnaround I've experienced. I think this is the week where I truly felt that 3D printing proved itself as a key element in our workflow. 

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(Note: the 3D printer is also very handy for printing dinosaur skeletons and mini manhattans)