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New Delft Blue: A Fusion of Algorithmic Design and 3D Printing

New Delft Blue, Delft, NL / Studio RAP

Architecture firm Studio RAP has utilized algorithmic design and 3D printing to create a stunning pair of archways at the PoortMeesters housing in the Netherlands. These archways, named New Delft Blue, were specifically designed to frame the entrances to a beautiful courtyard garden in the heart of the housing development.

New Delft Blue, Delft, NL / Studio RAP

To bring this vision to life, Studio RAP employed 3D printing technology to construct the archways using 3,000 unique tiles. These tiles were arranged in a pattern determined by an algorithm created by Studio RAP themselves. The inspiration for the design of the New Delft Blue gates stems from the traditional Delft Blue porcelain plates.

Over the centuries, the design language of these plates has undergone significant transformations. Initially, they imitated Oriental designs from China and Japan, but gradually evolved to incorporate contemporary Dutch designs. Throughout this evolution, the distinction between a decorative, nature-inspired frame and an idyllic scene has remained a consistent feature. It is this very distinction that serves as the foundation for the design of the New Delft Blue gates.

New Delft Blue, Delft, NL / Studio RAP

In this design, the ever-changing courtyard life takes center stage as the idyllic scene, while the gates themselves act as a three-dimensional frame. The gates are adorned with algorithmically-designed patterns that draw inspiration from nature. These intricate patterns not only enhance the aesthetic appeal of the gates but also serve as a guide, leading individuals from the public space towards the semi-public courtyard.

New Delft Blue, Delft, NL / Studio RAP

The approximately 3000 unique ceramic tiles that cover the two gates are 3D printed, allowing for the creation of contemporary ceramics that are both rich and unique. This innovative approach allows for the creation of contemporary ceramics that possess both a sense of opulence and individuality. To ensure the successful generation of the tile’s geometry, an algorithmic approach was employed, taking into consideration various manufacturing constraints such as maximum overhang, width, height, depth, shrinkage, and internal support structure.

New Delft Blue, Delft, NL / Studio RAP

By manipulating the shapes of the tiles, the artists were able to achieve a poetic effect akin to ‘painting with shapes’. This was achieved by applying a transparent blue runny glaze, resulting in a light blue color on the convex portions of the tiles (representing the hills), while the concave areas (representing the valleys) were adorned with deep blue glaze, creating a seamless transition of hues.

New Delft Blue, Delft, NL / Studio RAP

The deep blue color not only pays homage to the iconic Delft Blue porcelain and the surrounding canals but also serves as a striking contrast to the earth-toned brickwork of the building. In essence, this project encapsulates the essence of Delft in a contemporary manner, drawing inspiration from its rich history through algorithmically-designed patterns in blue, while also embracing the city’s present-day identity as a hub of knowledge and cutting-edge design facilitated by 3D printing technology.

New Delft Blue, Delft, NL / Studio RAP

The New Delft Blue archways serve as a testament to the power of algorithmic design and 3D printing in the field of architecture. By combining cutting-edge technology with a deep appreciation for history and craftsmanship, Studio RAP has created a truly remarkable addition to the city of Delft.

Image courtesy of Riccardo De Vecchi