BERKELEY (CBS SF) – Its being hailed as an three-dimensional architectural first, a feat that takes printing from the prehistoric days of paper and toner into the Jetsonian age. Its name is ‘Bloom.’

Standing nine feet tall, and with a footprint of 12 feet by 12 feet, Bloom is the first and largest powder-based 3-D cement structure built to date. It was unveiled Friday at the 5th annual Berkeley Circus, a celebration of the work of the College of Environmental Design.

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A team of UC Berkeley researchers led by Ronald Real unveiled Bloom Friday. It promises to shatter present-day limitations of 3-D architecture in terms of speed, cost of production, aesthetics and practical applications.

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Bloom is basically a freestanding pavilion with undulating walls made of hundreds of floral bricks — some 840 in all. Each brick is unique, with a variegated pattern allowing for light to pass through. Each brick was 3-D printed using a new type of iron oxide-free Portland cement polymer formulation developed by Rael.

Bloom being assembled.

Bloom being assembled.

“While there are a handful of people currently experimenting with printing 3-D architecture, only a few are looking at 3-D printing with cement-based materials, and all are extruding wet cement through a nozzle to produce rough panels,” Rael said. “We are mixing polymers with cement and fibers to produce very strong, lightweight, high-resolution parts on readily available equipment; it’s a very precise, yet frugal technique. This project is the genesis of a realistic, marketable process with the potential to transform the way we think about building a structure.”

Rael designed and led the yearlong research project with funding and collaborative support from the Siam Research and Innovation Co. Ltd. (SRI).

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Bloom It will be disassembled and shipped to Thailand, where it will be exhibited and remain on display for several months before traveling to various locations around the world.

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