bartlett students develop a 3D-printed multi-material system made from recyclable plastics

Mar 22, 2021

students from the bartlett school of architecture at UCL have developed a 3D-printed multi-material system made from recyclable plastics as part of their architectural design master’s program. called ‘metaplas’, the project makes use of rigid and flexible thermoplastics to create a structural system through geometric folds. and to demonstrate how it could be used, the team of students has applied the design to london’s euston station, envisioning an undulating roof canopy for the site filled with dazzling colors and textures.

night view of the material system application on a new design proposal for euston station in london

metaplas was developed with the aim of creating a material system that unifies design, materiality, structural requirements, and fabrication through digital tools. the students also focus on utilizing a decentralized fabrication network, ensuring more ecological and ethical production while boosting local economies.

day view

beginning with extensive material research, two recyclable thermoplastics — rigid PLA and flexible TPU — were identified for their potential to achieve a foldable multi-material panel. this panel is 3D-printed flat and made three-dimensional through an integrated patterning system.

top view the proposed canopy over euston station

folding was enhanced as a geometric tool through a customized process involving structural analysis prior to folding. areas that require the most structure are densest in folds, while areas that are intrinsically structural are sparser. the folds are secured through a cable system and a clip-lock mechanism that eases assembly, disassembly, and maintenance.

detail showing the intricate textures obtained through the multi-material layering and folding strategies

further research has gone into integrating thermochromic plastics in the multi-material panel through an embedded micro-pattern. this achieves passive control over the lighting temperature of interior spaces, thereby improving indoor well-being while including semiotic lighting for a sense of directionality.

interior view of the proposed central interior space at euston station

euston station’s new canopy in london is the large-scale architectural scenario for metaplas. a decentralized fabrication approach is established by identifying and mapping scattered recycling and 3D printing facilities within a radius from the site. the panels are fabricated in these facilities, thereby boosting the local economy and breaking the economic displacement and polarization caused by traditional centralized productions.

interior view towards one of the platforms

view towards one of the entries at euston station

a 3D-printed sample of the continuous flat-to-form foldable panel

the material gradient distribution between rigid-translucent PLA and flexible-opaque TPU

the physical properties of the folded prototypes are investigated according to structural analysis colors, correlating the pattern topology with structural parameters

drawing of the assembly system: parts are composed of recycled plastics that are fabricated in local facilities before being assembled on-site through an integrated snap-lock system

application of the customized folding technique, ground connection, cable, and relief network to the architectural scenario at euston station

project info:

name: metaplas

design team: betty chavez angeles, prapatsorn lertluechachai, wisnu hardiansyah and marwah osama

tutor: kostas grigoriadis and martina rosati, RC8 from the architectural design master’s programme at the bartlett school of architecture, UCL (2020)

designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.

edited by: lynne myers | designboom