Digital Grotesque


These organic forms are details of an architectural environment produced in sandstone using a 3D printer. The project is a collaboration between Michael Hansmeyer and Benjamin Dillenburger who use a series of algorithms to create the shapes the printer produces:

In the Digital Grotesque project, we use these algorithms to create a form that appears at once synthetic and organic. The design process thus strikes a delicate balance between the expected and the unexpected, between control and relinquishment. The algorithms are deterministic as they do not incorporate randomness, but the results are not necessarily entirely foreseeable. Instead, they have the power to surprise.

The resulting architecture does not lend itself to a visual reductionism. Rather, the processes can devise truly surprising topographies and topologies that go far beyond what one could have traditionally conceived.


The diagram below shows the scale of the completed structure. Regular readers won’t be surprised to hear that the first thing that came to my mind when looking at these photos was “Lovecraft!” This unpredictable rendering process immediately solves the problem of how to depict or construct a non-human architecture without resort to anything Earth-bound. Those ridged and fluted columns could be R’lyeh or they could equally be the vast and ancient buildings that Dyer and Danforth discover in At the Mountains of Madness. I’ve been waiting for a while for 3D printing to start moving beyond the mere replication of existing objects; this is a very promising development. There’s more detail about the process and construction at the Digital Grotesque site.


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At the Mountains of Madness

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