Star Lounge illuminated at night
Star Lounge illuminated at night. Photo: Matthew Millman Photography

Emerging Objects and Bold Machines: The Innovation Workshop at Stratasys have joined together to unveil one of the largest PLA based 3D printed structures built to date. The debut of this groundbreaking project is a demonstration of the architectural potential of 3D printing, particularly using the small MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D printer.

Interior. Photo: Matthew Millman Photography
Interior. Photo: Matthew Millman Photography

The freestanding dome structure, “Star Lounge” is 8.5 feet tall with a footprint that measures approximately 11 feet by 11 feet. It is composed of 2073 hexagonal blocks printed in various translucent colors that correspond to a particular block type, which helps simplify the construction process and creates a beautiful and logical pattern of stars and hexagons that comprise 21 larger panels that are riveted together.

Dome Photos 097

The Star Lounge demonstrates that prefabricating 3D printed panels for architectural assembly is feasible and opens the door to creating 3D printed environments, walls, ceilings, partitions and cladding in building construction. The Emerging Objects team, comprised of Ronald Rael, Virginia San Fratello and Mona Ghandi, designed the structure in their Oakland studio and the components were printed and assembled by Bold Machines in their Brooklyn, NY headquarters.


Fabricated using a ‘BotFarm’ of over 100 3D printers, the team was able to create a structure that maximized the efficiency of the print time and the print volume. 2 blocks could be printed per printer without support material in just over an hour. To facilitate file management only 28 different block types make up the doubly curved dome structure and each block has a number printed on the interior surface to locate the block in the assembly. Holes for rivets were also printed into the blocks. The overall assembled structure creates a decorative pattern reminiscent of traditional American quilts or Islamic geometric motifs that evoke “an otherworldly feeling” when inside.

Dome Basic 006

“The ability to create lightweight structures with affordable desktop printers is a game changer for making architecture and interiors,” said Emerging Objects co-Founder, Virginia San Fratello. “The range of colors and their translucent properties create beautiful effects.”  Bre Pettis, co-founder and former CEO of MakerBot Industries commented, “This project really pushed the limits of 3D printing and showed what is possible when a team has the desire to push a design to the limit.”

The Star Lounge on the UC Berkeley campus. Photo: Matthew Millman Photography
The Star Lounge on the UC Berkeley campus. Photo: Matthew Millman Photography


Project Date: 2015
Design Team: Ronald Rael, Virginia San Fratello and Mona Ghandi.
Build Team Team: Bre Pettis, Rob Steiner, Sam Klemmer, Elizabeth Randel, Geo Salas, Nathan Worth, Steve Gonzalez, Anthony DiMare, Sebastian Misiurek and Meemo.
Additional Project Information: Printed at the Makerbot BotFarm in Brooklyn, NY. All files and instructions for printing the Star Lounge will be available open-source on Thingiverse. Enormous thanks to Rob, Bre and all the bold team at Bold Machines!