Credit: STARR Catering Group

Those heading to the Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) could grab a sandwich or a snack from a café that could be presented as art.

Last month, Cucuyo, a mobile café, opened just outside of the Miami-based art museum as the first ever 3D printed structure of its size.

The café is made of 700-pounds of stainless steel and includes a front counter, back counter and door. The final assembled piece stands at 20 feet long, nine feet high and 12 feet wide with an advanced counter design, electrical configuration and plumbing inside of the structure.

The open shell exterior was constructed using intricate, thin crossbeams that encase the interior of the café and provide an aura of protection while allowing breezes from the nearby Biscayne Bay to cool it off.

The structure, designed by Miami-based Berenblum Busch Architects and manufactured by Amsterdam-based MX3D, was created using four industrial robots equipped with an advanced welding machine to print miles of line.

“Taking a concept and turning it into a fully functional structure has been a challenging adventure,” Gijs van der Velden, co-founder of MX3D, said in an interview with R&D Magazine. “One of the most difficult tasks for our team was transforming the working prototype into a smooth production machine with greater than 1.5 miles of lines.


“MX3D, naturally more focused on innovation than efficiency, had to transform into a high turnaround factory overnight,” she added. “By applying smart solutions and machine learning modules, we made this happen.” 


However, the design and construction did present some challenges.

“The most challenging part was to find a fabrication technique that worked formally, functional, structural and in terms of materials while achieving an integrated solution,” Claudia Busch, assoc. AIA, principal of Berenblum Busch Architecture, said in an interview with R&D Magazine. “Our design concept formally created a cafe with an egg shape structure, this is quite complex to resolve since the egg shape has double curvatures and all elements have to fit together within small tolerances.

“It also had to be functional for people to work in and to serve food in the space around the clock with all equipment fitting in the tight location,” she added. “In terms of material, Cucuyo has to be weather resistant since it is placed outdoor and by the sea, with high humidity and salinity content in the air.”

The café serves coffee, sandwiches and small bites to eat. The mobile café will be open on the terrace of PAMM overlooking Biscayne Bay daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., except for Wednesday.

“In terms of the building structure that houses Cucuyo, the elevated outdoor terrace can accommodate limited weight so we had to design the cafe with that in mind,” Busch said. “On the other hand, Cucuyo’s shell was engineered to have a thin outer skin that can be disassembled for relocation while maintaining its structural strength and stability.”