On Monday, the striatus arched bridge was unveiled at the Venice Biennale of Architecture. It was designed by the Block Research Group from the Institute of Technology in Architecture (ITA) at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH), the Zaha Hadid Architects Computation and Design Group and incremetal3D, the Innsbruck-based specialists in additive manufacturing. The project was made possible by the expertise of the construction materials manufacturer Holcim Switzerland.
The striatus bridge project is part of the Time Space Existence exhibition organized by the European Cultural Center as part of the Biennale. The name (Latin for grooved, corrugated, striated) reflects the structural logic and fabrication process behind the project, according to Philippe Block from ETH Zurich in a press release issued by Holcim. “In arched and vaulted structures, material is placed such that forces can travel to the supports in pure compression. Strength is created through geometry, using a fraction of the materials used in conventional concrete beams”, he explains. Moreover, Block argues that this opens up a wide range of opportunities to build with lower strength and in a more sustainable and environmentally friendly manner.
“Striatus stands on the shoulders of giants”, says Shajay Bhooshan from Zaha Hadid Architects. “It revives ancestral techniques of the past”, while the bridge’s “tactile quality, aesthetics and strength” reflect the vision that “beauty is a promise of performance”. The collaborative work that went into the striatus bridge project ensures that the end result is “greater than the sum of each of its blocks”, according to Johannes Megens, co-founder of incremental3D. Jan Jenisch, CEO of Holcim, explains his view that the digital and circular design of the bridge showcases “concrete at its best, with minimal material use and blocks that can be repeatedly reassembled and infinitely recycled”.
According to information from Holcim itself, the company is working on a series of 3D printing applications, from complex infrastructures through to affordable housing projects in Africa. In a similar vein, for example, Holcim has just opened the world’s first school made from 3D printed concrete blocks. It took just 18 hours to build the walls and used 70 percent fewer building materials than conventional construction techniques.