“Project Silkworm Cocoons”

“Project Silkworm Cocoons”

We are proud to finally anounce the “Project Silkworm Cocoons” as we call it internally to the public:

We have been approached by Arthur Mamou-Mani, a well-known Architect from London, to assist in his newest project, the creation of the “3D Printing Pop-Up Shop at Xintiandi Style”. He was very ambitious and needed a large volume printer, cabable of supporting his vision of creating a pavillion from connected 3D printed elements. When he sent us a gcode to test on our printers, we had been pretty intrigued by the novel way of using the 3D printer to create objects which have no a lot in common with the traditional objects created with FDM. Those lantern like structures which materialised in front of our eyes had a much more textile and elegant feeling to them, looking like being weaved instead of printed layer by layer. From that moment we knew we had to support his idea and over the course of a few emails and skype sessions we were able to rough out a common plan and jumped in. We also helped to establish contact with the second sponsor, Voltivo, who donated some of the filament used to create the pieces.

Three Delta Towers found their way to China, printing the pieces all around the clock right where they will be assembled later, while one Delta is in London for trouble shooting, experimenting and evluation of further possibilites.

Right now we are really hoping everything works well within this tight schedule. (The Xintiandi 3D Printing Pop-Up Store will exist during the Shanghai Fashion Week from the 25th September to the 12th October 2014.)


above images courtesy of Arthur Mamou-Mani

If you want to have more information, continue reading and enjoy an interview with the architect, Arthur Mamou-Mani, find some excerpts from the offical press release about the project and the team. You can also download the official press release here:

Download Official Press Release Paper

Read more about the project itself from the official press-release and Arthur Mamou-Mani himself:


Architect: Arthur Mamou-Mani

Lead Collaborator: Andrei Jipa

Project Consultant: Stephany Xu

China Partner: GreenCity


Hypecask (3D Printers)

Voltivo (PLA Material)


The Xintiandi 3D Printing Pop-Up Store by Mamou-Mani at Xintiandi Style, Shanghai, is a temporary space to discover the world of 3D printing and the beautiful forms that can be created with this innovative technology. It will take place during the Shanghai Fashion Week from the 25th September to the 12th October 2014.

The shop is made of two hundred different modules which are all 3D printed with varying opacity, creating a beautiful lace-like forest of cocoons lit from inside. You will be able to wear some of our 3D printed dresses, shoes and accessories, take a picture within the structure and post it on social media with the hashtag #3DPrintXTD.

The geometry of the shop, modules and texture is based on the sine curve and is generated using computer programming. For each module a different file is sent to the 3D printer giving information on how much material should be printed. By varying this value throughout the print it changes its translucency, lightens it and creates a unique texture that diffuses light.

Three 3D printers will be printing the modules in Shanghai for a month using bio-plastic and will continue to print during the event as part of an exhibition to explain the process to the visitors. The Architect and his team will also give 3D printing workshops to children, novice and designers which will include 3D printing fashion accessory, using 3D Printing Pens and customizing 3D files.

One hundred names will be selected during a charity contest in August and will be written on the components of the pavilion. At the end of the event, the winners will collect their prints during a VIP party!

The following interesting interview with Arthur Mamou-Mani will also be published in X-Paper Shanghai.

1. How did the idea of 3D pop-up shop come out?

Last April we completed a giant laser-cut blue origami at the Xintiandi Style mall as part of the RIBA window display project with ARUP Associates (more details here).

During the celebratory dinner I talked to the client about a lab that I am opening in London called the FabPub in which people can come and use 3D printers and Laser-Cutter to create all kinds of personalized objects.

They asked if I could do a similar project at Xintiandi during the Fashion week but in a pop-up format. After several email discussions we decided that the whole project should be 3D printed! This is quite a challenge as large-scale 3d printers are still quite experimental. We found several amazing sponsors, such as Hypecask, who manufacture giant printers and Voltivo who produces a bio-plastic which we are using for the whole project. Once we had the right tools we started testing many options which was great because there was an immediate creative loop between our computers and the 3D prints. By using the same printer for the tests and the final product in Shanghai we could be precise to the micron and know that the prints will be exactly the same on the other side of the globe. We sent three Hypecask DeltaTower printers in Shanghai and started printing 200 different modules. It made a lot of sense as sending the 200 modules would have taken a lot more space! Since we could personalized every module we thought of a charity event in which 100 people will get their name 3d printed on the modules and at the end of the event, they will all collect their module. The money raised from this contest will go to charity.

2. What do you think about 3D printing and its future?

3D printing was invented by Chuck Hull in 1983 so it is as old as me. As architects we have been using this technology since at least 10 years, producing models for our projects. The real revolution is when printers went from very expensive tools to open-source, small desktop devices. Adrian Bowyer of Bath University invented a printer that could partly print itself, the RepRap. Most of the desktop machines that we see today are variations of this early concept. Makers around the world are hacking machines to print anything from bio-tissue to chocolate or clay. The revolution is not just the machine itself, it is the shift in mentality from a passive consumer-based society to an active collaborative and creative one in which people will not just buy, they will participate. Everyone will have a 3D printer at home and will download and modify 3d files to their requirements. This will go from furnitures all he way to food. It will be an exciting time in which everyone’s home will be truly different, the end of the IKEA home! This pop-up shop is an attempt to instil some of this spirit in the shopping mall.

3. According to you, what changes the 3D printing will bring to us, especially on the architecture and construction fields?

A friend of mine Dr. Zoe Laughlin, who runs the Institute of Making in London cleverly describes a lot of the objects that are being 3D printed today as “crapjets” . Very often we see small plastic objects that take very long to print and are very rough looking. The roughness is due to the way objects are modelled in the computer and then sliced into thin layers that are printed one after the other from bottom to top. With three friends of mine, Adam Holloway, Karl R Kjelstrup-Johnson and Andrei Jipa, we worked on a software called Silkworm (more info here) that transforms curves in the computer directly into a code that prints without the need for slicing. Since the software is linked to a very popular design 3D modelling software called Rhinoceros and Grasshopper, it creates a very direct connection between designs and 3D printing. This is how we designed the modules of the pop-up project. This process gave a very unique lace-like quality to the modules. In the future, architects will 3D print their building, it will happen in two different ways: First, cranes on site will become giant 3D printers which might be directly controlled by a 3D modelling software so directly connected to the Architect’s computer, it will be used for the main structure, either using concrete or a very advanced bio-concrete made of organic material similarly to the bio-plastic we are using with our printers today. Secondly, architects will 3D print the components of their buildings on site with smaller machines. I don’t believe a project will be 3D printed in one go, there will still be a need to assemble pieces as we are doing for the pop-up store. Architect should start learning about 3D printing as the change is happening very fast!

4. How about your cooperation with Xintiandi?

When Xintiandi talked about doing this project at first, I sent a presentation with many different digital fabrication technique, such as laser-cutting or CNC milling, which are more common for pavilion projects.I also sent them projects that I have done in the past with the different tools (for example the pavilion that I worked on at the Burning Man festival – more info) and asked them which one I should use for the pop-up store project. They immediately said “3D print the whole project!”. This was quite scary at first but I felt so lucky that a client was willing to let us experiment with such an advanced tool. This project will be one of the first of its kind. Only a very open-minded and creative client could let this happen. People increasingly shop online through websites such as amazon or ASOS, I believe pop-up shops like this one gives another reason to go shopping physically, you will discover a one-of-a-kind interactive space that will only last a short time. So we need more Xintiandis in the world!!

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About Arthur:
Arthur Mamou-Mani is a French architect and director of the award-winning architecture practice Mamou-Mani Architects.
He is a lecturer at the University of Westminster in London and owns a digital fabrication
laboratory called the FabPub which allows people to experiment with large 3D Printers and Laser Cutters.

Arthur has taught parametric design tools, digital fabrication as well as environmental and structural
simulation at many leading academic bodies such as the Architectural Association School of
Architecture and the UCL-Bartlett. He gave numerous talks including the TEDx conference in the
United States and the Taipei Technical University in Taiwan.

Mamou-Mani’s clients include Karen Millen Fashion, The Burning Man Festival, and Imagination.
His practice is currently undertaking work in England, France, USA and China.

Prior to founding Mamou-Mani in 2011, he worked with Atelier Jean Nouvel, Zaha Hadid Architects
and Proctor and Matthews Architects.

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