3D-Printed Pavilion Will Slowly Meld With Forest Surroundings

Lots of people talk about “becoming one” with nature, but few actually make that abstract concept a concrete reality. The architect and sculpture duo Smith|Allen recently completed a structure that serves as a literal reminder of our small place in the universal ecosystem.

The Echoviren Pavilion has been hailed as ‘the world’s first 3D printed, full-scale architectural installation’. Created using 7 desktop 3D printers, the structure measures 10ft x 10ft x 8ft and was erected as part of the Project 387 Residency which supports visual artists and performers. Inserted into a forest of towering redwoods in Gualala, California, the structure won’t last forever–over the years it will slowly decompose, creating new habitats for local birds, animals and insects.

Echoviren Collage

Image via Smith|Allen

The rather large open-air structure is made up of more than 500 panels, which required over 10,800 hours to print. After that painstaking process was completed, however, the pavilion was assembled onsite in only 4 days.

“A graft within the space of the forest, Echoviren is a space for contemplation of the landscape, of the natural, and our relationship with these constructs. It focuses on the essence of the forest not as a natural system, but as a palimpsest,” explain the designers.

Although the bright white of the roofless room stands in stark contrast to the surrounding forest now, the designers hope that it will not always be so. The entire structure is made from a plant-based PLA bio-plastic which will decompose over a period of 30 to 50 years, allowing the pavilion to become one with its environment over the coming decades.

Smith|Allen hopes Echoviren will encourage users to ‘view the forest in new ways, forcing them to gaze skywards into the tree canopy through its large oculus.’

Beth Buczynski is a freelancer writer and editor currently living in the Rocky Mountain West. Her articles appear on Care2, Ecosalon and Inhabitat, just to name a few. So far, Beth has lived in or near three major U.S. mountain ranges, and is passionate about protecting the important ecosystems they represent. Follow Beth on Twitter as @ecosphericblog