3D Printing a Room: The “Digital Grotesque” Project

Posted Tuesday, October 29th, 2013 by .

Digital GrotesqueNew 3D printing projects are cropping up online every day, from printing 3D cars to 3D printing prosthetics. So far, though, this is the first attempt at 3D printing an entire room, and the results are amazing! The project, titled “Digital Grotesque“, was designed to be a 172 square foot room that can surround viewers in its detail, and it was all created through 3D printing.

The Design

Design ProcessLooking at the results of the Digital Grotesque room, one might expect that it was sculpted by hand, but it was actually rendered by a computer. Even more surprisingly, the room was designed by algorithms that created its shapes, using repeated patterns at larger or smaller intervals that create seemingly endless shapes that are extremely detailed. Nevertheless, the result looks quite organic, and even a bit scary, but the creators assure us that this comes from our own human sensibilities, not the art itself.

“Any references to nature or existing styles are not integrated into the design process, but are evoked only as associations in the eye of the beholder.”

Of course, an entire 3D printed room is a large and expensive undertaking without proper planning and testing. They started with a 1:3 scale prototype, which has been shown on display in Switzerland and Tokyo. This gave the team a chance to test their design and view the results in a three-dimensional space.

The Full Model

Installing PanelsThe full model took about one full year to design, including creating the algorithms that made it possible. The design also takes up about 78 GB of data, with all of its meticulous detail, and includes around 260 million surfaces. This is more detail than humans would likely to be able to create on their own, and is a testament to the 3D printing process. The designers point out that the extra detail has no extra cost with additive 3D manufacturing:

“There is no longer a cost associated with complexity, as printing a highly detailed grotto costs the same as printing a primitive cube.”

Once the design was complete, it took around one month to print all of the various pieces, representing smaller layers of a larger whole. Surprisingly, even with so many heavy pieces to assemble, it took the design team only one day to assemble the project.

Here is a video about the printing and assembly process:


While this is likely the first 3D printed room to hit the internet, it certainly won’t be the last. As 3D printing continues to grow, we can expect to see it integrated into even more fields, from decorative design to architecture. As this project has proven, 3D printing provides the kind of detail and freedom that artists and designers may never have been able to achieve on such a large scale before, and the results are breathtaking.

Steve Leigh

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Steven Leigh has been enthusiastic about technology since he was very young, and he enjoys sharing his knowledge and expertise with others, through his writing. He is also a composer, a musician, and a singer, experimenting with the blending of technology and music with his recording and performance projects. In his free time, he enjoys playing golf and running in 5K races and is currently training for his first 10K.

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