Giant 3D printers for construction can help make housing more affordable—as in a neighborhood in Austin, Texas, where a 33-foot-long machine recently squeezed out the walls of tiny new houses for people who were once chronically homeless . But an Italian architecture firm is experimenting with a way to potentially make the process even less expensive, and better for the climate, by using a cheap and readily available building material: local soil. [Photo: Iago Corazza/courtesy Mario Cucinella Architects] Over the last few weeks, near the city of Ravenna, Italy, multiple 3D printers have slowly laid down layers of earth to form a dome-shaped house called Tecla (“technology and clay”). “There’s a long history of architecture made by mud, like adobe,” says Mario Cucinella, founder of the eponymous architecture firm that created the project. “This is a palette used everywhere in the world. I think this combination expresses the idea that reducing the ecological footprint is not only about high tech, but a mix between new tools and an old material.” [Photo: Iago Corazza/courtesy Mario Cucinella Architects] Some other companies using 3D printing technology for housing rely on concrete as a primary material, which has a particularly large carbon footprint. […]

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