A 3D printed tram stop in Prague by So Concrete

Technology, aesthetics and sustainability: this is how we can sum up the design of the Výstaviště tram stop, adjacent to Stromovka Park in Prague 7, a progressive, modern and creative district, home to many artistic and cultural institutions . The ideal place to experience an innovation in the construction sector, namely robotic 3D printing with high performance UHPC concrete, creating a tram shelter with a strong visual impact, but with features that save up to 60% of materials, while achieving excellent performance in terms of economics and durability. In addition, the stop is completed with a bench and information panels, offering a complete solution for all the space in which it has been inserted.
This is the first intervention of the Czech Republic so concrete company, which has a long experience in robotic construction technologies for urban furniture. The objective, in fact, was to demonstrate the functionality of this technology and its high aesthetic value. Because one thing is certain: the beauty of street furniture, and in particular public transport infrastructure, is an excellent deterrent against vandalism.
The creative process started from nature and from a parametric design, because the location, the shapes of the ribs and the columns of this small architecture exploit to the maximum the efficiency of the solutions proven by nature. Záviš Unzeitig, So Concrete designer, explains how the design process works: “Already during the design phase, the structure is analyzed statically, and with the help of topological optimization it is then possible to reduce the volume of material used. At the same time, aesthetic qualities and structural requirements are The resulting morphology of the ribs reflects the actual behavior of the structure under load and thus directly shows the forces taking place there. material. The result is a finely perforated structure that can support the same load as a solid concrete slab.”

With the parametric programmingin this case with Grasshopper (Rhino), the final design was finalized, the static verification of which was carried out by the Stráský, Hustý a partnerři engineering company. Once the digital part was completed, production was quick as it only took 24 hours to print the basic structure. Speed ​​is certainly an important aspect of this technology, as it minimizes disruption to public transport and citizens.
Thanks to the properties of UHPC, thin self-supporting structures can thus be made quickly, using a minimum amount of steel, which further reduces the ecological footprint of the tram shelter in Holešovice. Additionally, the stop is made up of several structural segments, for which different types of concrete and 3D printing approaches were used. A feature that not only offers the advantage of saving time and labour, but also the possibility of producing complex shapes, without the use of molds or forms, with a further reduction in costs. Savings that would allow administrations to invest in these small architectures, which have the potential to improve the user experience of public transport. After all, waiting for the tram at a stop like Holesovice makes the journey more pleasant and attractive, reducing traffic for the benefit of the quality of life in the city.

Christiane Burklein

Project: So Concrete
Location: Prague, Czech Republic
Year: 2022
Images: Tomáš Hejzlar, www.tomashejzlar.cz

Berta D. Wells