Mamou-Mani Architects presents Altostrata, a groundbreaking 3D printed travelling auditorium. Crafted entirely from compostable sugar-based and high grade polylactic acid (PLA), Altostrata showcases the latest in sustainable design technology.   This large-scale modular structure highlights the environmental benefits of Fab.Pub’s new mobile factory, a robotic 3D printing arm inside a shipping container.   First showcased at Sibiu International Theatre Festival 2023 in Romania, then in Singapore Design Week 2023 and finally at Dubai Design Week 2023.  Altostrata applies the four core circular principles: reduce, reuse, repurpose and recycle, through utilising renewable, compostable, sugar-based modules that can be assembled and disassembled. 


DATE  2023





Therme Group

Dr. Robert C. Hanea, Lucas Leuschner, Elena Morariu

Mamou-Mani Architects

Arthur Mamou- Mani, James Cheung, Clinton Mendonca, Ariadna Wahab, Zeynep Aydinoglu


Mathias Gmachl, Aslinur Taskin, Adam Meyrick, Jonah Maxted, Rong Cheng Li, Alex Hirtan, Giovanni Panico, Ho Wai Man


Tateo Nakajima, Ottilie Thornhill, Andreea Felciuc, Carolina Bartram, Chris Clark, Emily Walport, Graham Dodd, Stephen Philips, Melissa Mak, Sam Finnigan, Matthew Atwood, James Beer

Therme Arc

Elena Morariu, Iulian Tanaselea, Cristian Coica, Paul Brisan

Special thanks to AI BUILD and CNC ROBOTICS

The concept for Altostrata revolves around creating an inviting central hub that fosters community engagement in different cities around the world. At its core, the space is designed to host a myriad of discussions on circularity. 

One of the key features is the spiral-like arrangement of elements that guide and invite individuals into the space, sparking a sense of curiosity and intrigue as well as the proximity with the machine that printed the project, illustrating a holistic approach to construction. The flexibility of the space is enhanced by a thoughtfully crafted kit of parts that can be easily assembled and disassembled as needed. 

Moreover, the portability of the pavilion is ensured by fabricating part sizes that can fit in standard containers for storing and transporting the disassembled parts. This not only simplifies logistics but also minimises the environmental footprint by optimising space utilisation and reducing waste, proven through the three locations that has showcased the project. 

In line with our commitment to sustainability and cutting-edge technology, the materials used in constructing the space include a blend of reusable and recyclable biomaterials along with advanced fabrication using 3D printing. Embracing the potential of bioplastics derived from renewable sources to potentially replace petroleum based polymers, we have used this project as a way to research the structural capacity and long term viability of high grade PLA and commissioned our own in-house testing.  Furthermore, leveraging 3D printing technology allows us to fabricate intricate components with precision while minimising material waste, we were able to test different kinds of 3D continuous organic trusses optimised for forces. 

In line with past projects from our practice such as Conifera, this project is a jump in scale to push the boundaries of organic materials outdoors and potential use in Architecture.

Altostrata represents a groundbreaking fusion of material and technological advancements, redefining the paradigm of circular construction. At its core, the project champions material innovation through the large-scale utilisation of bio-plastics, engineered to endure outdoor environments and resist weathering conditions. There often lies a deep contradiction between sustainable and biodegradable. Altostrata attempts to find a middle ground for both by using a long lasting structural yet industrially compostable grade of polylactic acid. 

Moreover, the integration of large scale 3D printing robotic technologies, travelling with the piece itself opens up a discussion on locally producing construction modules around the world. Our aim is to create a fully self-sufficient factorization space in which materials are grown rather than mined, recycled and composted rather than discarded and printed locally whilst designed globally. 

The design ethos revolves around creating self stable curved walls. By pushing both the size of the modules to the maximum printable at a factory in east london as well as the mix size that could fit in standard shipping containers, reusability is at the very inception of the design. Moreover, 3D printing allowed us to develop an efficient truss that could be tested in house providing an organic and customised pattern which contracts from the usual mass produced repetitive trusses characteristic of modernism. 

Beyond mere functionality, the project confronts the prevalent issue of wasteful exhibition design head-on. By reimagining exhibition structures as reusable and repurposable entities, the project aligns with the imperative of reducing environmental footprint while fostering a culture of circularity within the architectural domain. In essence, this endeavour illustrates a holistic approach to architectural innovation, where material, technological, and design considerations converge to redefine the boundaries of circular construction practices, inspiring a new era of circular architecture. 

Altostrata was printed in 3 weeks using one robotic arm in East london. It is 30M long and made of 12 bespoke modules reaching 2.7M high and can be man-handled based on a 3D space truss, parametrically optimised for forces. Our inhouse tests with ARUP and Fab Pub have proven a resistance to pull forces of 500 kg.m2. This has surpassed even our engineers as bioplastic is usually understood to be weaker than petroleum based polymers. 

PLA although widely used in 3D printing is not very well researched compared to Pet based polymers such as PETG, ABS. However it shows the following benefits we have researched independently. 


  • PLA bioplastics are made from fermented plant starch such as corn, cassava, sugarcane or sugar beet pulp which are all renewable and sustainable resources, contrary to petroleum which depletes over time.
  • The renewable resources used for PLA Bioplastics are natural carbon sinks, contrary to petroleum based plastics. More than 50% of carbon emission in the U.S. incinerator plants come from petroleum based plastics.
  • Bioplastics can be 80% more effective at reducing energy needs( 0.49 kg CO2-e vs 2−3 kg CO2-e for petroleum equivalent) 
  • PLA is up to 30 times less toxic than petroleum based plastics when heated
  • PLA is industrially compostable. However it can degrade naturally over time. Warm temperatures, high humidity and small particle sizes will make biodegradation even faster.
  • Soil mixed with composted PLA remains suitable for plant growth despite a slight lowering of PH levels 
  • PLA Bioplastic does not contain the hormone disruptors often found in traditional plastics – bisphenol A (BPA) . 
  • Recycling alone cannot be a long term solution for any plastics: All plastics cannot be recycled forever, however PLA is cradle to cradle.