by Mary Lee

OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Tucked away in an Oakland backyard may be one of the most unique cabins in all of the Bay Area.

Called ‘The Cabin of Curiosities’ — the structure is made up of 3D printed walls, furniture and even objects inside it. Thousands of 3D printed tiles were used in its construction.

Two Bay Area professors — UC Berkeley Associate Professor of Architecture Ronald Rael and San Jose State Associate Professor of Design Virginia San Fratello — developed the idea after Oakland relaxed its restrictions on secondary housing units.

“I think in the world of 3D printing and architecture, there is a race of who can print the fastest and the cheapest and it’s a race to the bottom,” said San Fratello. “We were more interested in making something really beautiful.”

The 3D printed planter tiles include pockets for vegetation to grow like succulents. Fratello said the brown tiles are made out of chardonnay grape skins and the white tiles are made out of cement.

“We also designed it in such a way that the printer would make slight errors as it printed the tiles,” said Rael as he described the shingled ‘seed stitch’ tile wrapping the side walls and roof. “Even though they’re the same shape in the computer, they actually are unique on the building.”

Each seed stitch tile takes just 6 minutes to make — a process that could be used to quickly build structures to ease the Bay Area’s housing shortage.

“We see this as a response to the housing crisis,” said Fratello. “We were able to be more renegade and experimental and using these off-the-shelf things and experiment with materials.”

Inside the waterproof cabin, the walls are made of bioplastic corn-based tiles. The tiles glow and change color with LED lights.

“What’s so exciting about 3D printing is that we can design something and make it almost instantly!” said Rael.

This is the first 3-D printed cabin by Emerging Objects. They are still working on the exact price of the urban cabin.

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