ARS Electronica Festival, Linz, Austria
September 2012

Traditional concrete blocks are not designed to breathe. They are made relatively solid and designed to be stacked quickly and cheaply. Because the fabrication of these cast blocks require reuseable molds, it is impossible to make complex shapes that have hidden corners or shapes. With digital-to-digital technology developed in rapid prototyping or three-dimensional printing, the concept of mass-production in concrete blocks can be reconsidered into one of mass-customization where every single unit is different. Each block can be its own complex shape and scale, while new materials, like concrete polymer, can be explored in this innovative process. In the case of Tracheoles, the breathability of the block is achieved by incorporating a complex cavity system that is similar to the trachea system of grasshoppers, who breathe through spiracle holes in their sides. In order to allow the movement of hot air through the continuous spaces, smart plugs are strategically positioned. They are made of thermobimetal, a lamination of two metals with different coefficients of expansion. When heated to a designated temperature, one of the metal sides will expand more than the other, resulting in a curling action.

Principal Investigator: Doris Sung, DOSU Studio Architecture
Concrete 3-D Printing: Ron Rael, Emerging Objects
Team: Evan Shieh (Project Coordinator), Dennis Chow, Dylan Wood