SOM creates 3D-printed building that shares energy with a car for off-grid living

Architecture office Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) has created a 3D-printed building that self-generates power and shares the energy with a partnering vehicle. The project presents itself as a model for off-grid living.

Working in partnership with the US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the architects have created a curved pavilion which it claims to be the world’s largest 3D-printed polymer structure.

Oak Ridge has a vehicle using the same technology that links it to the structure using a closed-loop battery system.

This prototype aims to display how energy can be shared between a building an d a motorised vehicle. It has been developed for an initiative called the Additive Manufacturing Integrated Energy (AMIE) which researches new ways of thinking about the generation, storage and usage of electrify.

The SOM-designed structure is composed of 3D-printed panels that hold multiple purposes. It acts as an exterior cladding, while the panels also provide structural support, insulation and moisture protection.

“SOM and its partners optimised the structure’s form to reduce the amount of material used and to express three-dimensional printing’s ability to deploy complex, organic geometries,” the firm said.

The envelope of the pavilion is made up of a high efficiency enclose of approximately 80% opaque panels with 20% glazing.

In addition, solar panels are used in the roof, feeding a battery under the building, which powers the structure at night. The 3D-printed vehicle also generates its own power using a hybrid electrical system.

The building and the vehicle share power with each other through a wireless system that transmits via electromagnetic fields, then captured and distributed by a receiving device.

“The project pioneers two-way, wireless energy sharing between a 3D-printed vehicle, the power grid, and photovoltaics embedded in the structure,” said SOM.

“The innovation consortium is an excellent example of design, government, science, the university and multiple industry partners working together to push the limits of building technology and high-performance design to solve some of the world’s most urgent issues in energy and urbanism,” said SOM partners Brian Lee and Philip Enquist in a statement.

The building itself is 11.6m by 3.7m and 3.7m wide.

It was presented to the public for the first time at the International Builder’s Show in Las Vegas, which took place from 19 to 21 January of this year.

Dubai has also announced plans to create the world’s first fully functioning 3D-printed office of 2,000 square feet that will be assembled in a matter of a few weeks.

Additionally, Saudi Arabia has also announced its interest in 3D-printing as an alternative construction method.