Using 3D Printing for the Revitalisation of Traditional Architecture

Over time, most buildings get updated — and no structure is immune to change. Updates are often the result of an architect trying to satisfy the requirements of modern use, which is why we often see extensions and annexes on period properties. Some older buildings are updated so much that they become unrecognisable from the original. The original character is therefore lost, often tastelessly so too.

Revitalisation is the process of restoring this original character. It involves restoring the original architectural image of a building, by first creating a physical architectural model of it based on architectural drawings, photographs and artwork. It’s a time-consuming process because of the level of research involved. You also have a significant amount of labour time which is eaten up with model making.

To make this process easier, architects of the PANOVA studio have been using 3D printing to manufacture true-to-design revitalisation models, which are used in the construction industry and by private investors to return buildings back to their original design. For this work, they use a 3DGence 3D printer.

3D printing for building revitalisation

One of the challenges with traditional model making (model making by hand) is that visualisations and models do not accurately reflect the spatial character of a building. Proportions are often inaccurate which can lead to issues in refurbishment work.

3D printing is better because it gives a detailed determination of the size of a building. Intricate elements, like frills and ornaments, can be designed and printed to scale. Model making by hand still has its place, of course, but 3D printing has the benefit of eliminating human error. It is also much more accurate.

“Architectural models built with the use of incremental technology work great during a preliminary stage of negotiations with investors,” says Bogusław Zbyszewski, the managing director at PANOVA, “they make it possible for us to quickly respond to the changes introduced by investors, and they give us a simple option to create subsequent iterations of the project in various site development options.”

3D printing has also enabled architects of the PANOVA studio to spend less time on the physical building of models, and more time on the research and design stage. This enables them to create a more accurate final model for investors. Models are also made faster – so much so that the team estimates they have achieved time savings of more than 77% versus the traditional model making process.

“Manual building of architectural models is very time-consuming and requires tedious work of model makers outlining elements, cutting them precisely, gluing and painting. Thanks to the use of 3D printing, we prepare models of buildings faster by 77%. We do not need the support of third-party companies because we do everything ourselves, says Jan Lessaer, Vice Director, PANOVA.

The team use a 3DGence INDUSTRY F340 to 3D print their models. The F340 prints an enormous range of materials thanks to four swappable print cores, which are designed to accommodate low, high-temp and abrasive materials. The F340 is highly suited to architectural applications because it prints dimensionally-accurate models. They are true to design, and the printer can run 24-hours a day.

“Suitable and good quality 3D printers enable printing of even the most complex elements, fine ornaments and openwork structures,” says Mateusz Sidorowicz, 3DGence marketing manager, “Our 3D printers are used more and more by property developers, investors, architects, designers, as well as museums and advertising agencies. They know how important in the sales process is a suitable, or realistically looking visual representation. It does not matter if it concerns a residential estate, a revitalised building or elements of an exhibition.”

So far, architects of the PANOVA studio have used 3D printing in over ten revitalisation projects. In 2018, they were awarded the prize of the Marshal of the Silesian Voivodeship in the Best Public Space of the Silesian Voivodeship 2018 competition for their work. They plan to continue using 3D printing in their work to help restore many more buildings in the future.

3D printer: 3DGence F340

This information was first published on the 3DGence website. If you enjoyed this case study, you can find more like it at our architecture page.