Construction has historically been an industry seen as being in confrontation with nature. Builders and developers act like an erosive force, destroying the natural beauty of a potential build site for the sake of extending the human environment.
Sustainability advocates argue that construction and architecture should work in concert with nature, benefiting and collaborating with the natural beauty of the build-site, and working to do the least to disturb the ecosystem.
This confrontation has persisted and in general the most sustainable projects have been able to achieve has been to not add as much CO2 to the atmosphere as other buildings after they’re built. Architect Moses Hacmon wants to change all that with an ambitious project in Malibu, California.
On an rugged hillside overlooking the Malibu Pier and the endless blue waters of the Pacific, sits 150 acres of land that will one day be home to Sweetwater Park. At present, this land is accessible only by an old Jeep trail that snakes its way to the Santa Monica Mountains, and is home to little more than the local lizards. Someday soon, however, it will feature five single family homes; all designed with features that will blend the properties into the surrounding hillside.
This is a conscious choice by the project’s director, Moses Hacmon, who’s goal has been to not only minimize the disruption of the local environment, but to create homes that become a part of that environment. To that end Sweetwater Park will make use of RedWorks’ revolutionary on-site 3D printing technology to bring its revolutionary approach to architecture to fruition. RedWorks 3D Printers are capable of taking any source of unprocessed, inorganic dirt or sand and printing it into solid rock using a unique heating process, like a more extreme version of the plastic 3D printers filling up the offices of universities and startups.
Under normal circumstances, if a builder wanted to create a project like Sweetwater Park, it would involve importing 100% of the materials to build it, and exporting the dirt and dust excavated during construction. The end result being a lot of loud, diesel burning trucks moving up and down the hillside through residential neighborhoods all hours of the day, kicking up dust and debris, and generally leaving the construction site and surrounding area with worse air quality and the environment damaged.
Moses Hacmon and his team are looking to change that by using the excavated material of the site to 3D Print retaining walls, stone facings, and pavers that would otherwise need to be imported to site. This means that Sweetwater Park will not move one shovelful of dirt off-site, and make a sizable portion of its construction material with that same dirt. For locals, this will mean fewer vehicles moving material to site and no vehicles to move excavated dirt off-site, reducing the impact on air quality, limiting noise pollution, and reducing the number of delays by keeping an important piece of the supply chain limited to the build-site.
This project represents a new form of construction that goes beyond traditional notions of sustainability and transforms the way we actually think about building. Where building a home has always been a resource intense, highly disruptive process, Sweetwater Park will be one that tries to limit the supply chain as much as possible, and prioritizes the creation of human habitats that are enhanced by and help preserve their natural surroundings.