Heidegger’s hand and the 3D Printer: Reflections on the Architecture of the Future

Puedes leer el artículo en español: «La mano de Heidegger y la impresora 3D»,  publicado en Stakeholders.news


The Architeture of the Future

Foto de Andrea G en Unsplash

The Philosophy of Architecture in the Digital Age

We are immersed in an era of computerization where, as Byung-Chul Han suggests in «The Transparency Society,» things have been transformed into ‘infomats,’  as information processors. This paradigmatic shift is evident in architecture, with the emergence of ‘Smart Homes‘ and the rise of 3D- printed houses, symbols of a new way to understand and inhabit space.

Google imagines the future home as an «electronic orchestra,» where the user becomes the conductor, controlling temperature, humidity, music, and light with simple hand gestures or verbal commands. However, in this world governed by algorithms, humans seem to be losing their capacity to act and their autonomy. They are forced to adapt to algorithmic decisions they can’t comprehend. Algorithms are black boxes, and the world fades into the depths of neural networks, inaccessible to humans.

Han projects that the future human will not be a worker (Homo Faber) but a player (Homo Ludens). A being that only seeks to experience, enjoy, and play, renouncing the freedom that action bestows.

The House Through 3D Printing

3D-printed houses are a striking example of architecture in this new digital age. Their construction efficiency, speed, potential to address housing problems, and adaptability to individual needs make them especially appealing. However, lacking history and memory, they arise as structures alien to the architectural tradition. They are products released from materiality and History rather than material derivatives of information.

Digitization ends the paradigm of things. It subjugates these to information. Hardware is the support of software. 3D printers invalidate the being of things. They degrade them into material derivatives of information. Printers that print themselves create a “dynasty” of machines, where the important thing is not the printer itself but the design, the pattern that is shared in the ether of the internet.

Despite this apparent disconnection with the past, 3D-printed houses possess immense potential to transform our lives. Each of these structures can become the stage for a unique story, not told through conventional narratives but lived through the inhabitant’s experience.


Chillida’s Hand and the Hand-Built House

Martin Heidegger argued that thought is a work performed with the hands. According to the philosopher, artificial intelligence cannot think because it lacks hands. In his work «Sein und Zeit,» Heidegger argues that humans connect with the world through the utility of objects.

Eduardo Chillida, Heidegger’s sculptor and friend, eloquently represented the hand’s capacity to interact with the world. His sculptures shape space and experiment with the world we live in. In this sense, Chillida is a tangible testimony to Heidegger’s philosophy: his work celebrates the «thinking hand», a testimony to the importance of human participation in creating objects. He even contributed to Heidegger’s work «Die Kunst und der Raum» by creating its illustrations. Hands that capture space, that experiment with the world we live in.



Therefore, we are presented with a challenge and an opportunity: to combine the best of both worlds, the manual and the automatic. On the one hand, we can use technology to create houses efficiently and quickly. But, on the other hand, we must strive to maintain the value and essence of «manual making».

This can be achieved through collaboration between project managers, architects, and craftsmen, incorporating natural materials and traditional construction techniques in 3D-printed housing projects. It is possible and desirable for 3D-printed houses to incorporate design elements that respect the essence of «manual making.»

Because at the end of the day, houses are not just buildings; they are homes, lived and experienced spaces. No matter how much technology advances, there will always be a need for the human hand to create our environment. Heidegger’s hand does not go extinct but adapts and evolves in this increasingly digital world.

Our job is not just to create buildings but also to create experiences. Each 3D-printed house is an opportunity to create a unique experience, a story that can be told and lived. In this sense, 3D-printed architecture is not the end of the story but the beginning of a new one.

In a reality where basic income and video games seem to be the modern «panem et circenses«, as Han remarks, we hope the future does not resemble the movie “Ready, Player One”.

It is crucial to remember that technology is a tool we should use to enhance our capabilities and not a force that robs us of our essence. Even though we live in an increasingly digital world, we must strive to maintain the human essence in every corner of our creations.


Reflection on the Architecture of the Future

Foto de Karl Hörnfeldt en Unsplash