The Skylos at the Frontier Drive-Inn are a one-of-a-kind, 3D printed experiment in habitation and technology.

The project, designed by celebrated architect and artist Ron Rael and constructed with assistance of Logman Arja, was completed in 2022.

Hay bales in front of the Skylos at the Frontier Drive-Inn

The Skylos at the Frontier straddle ancient and futuristic technologies. One of the first permitted 3D-printed adobe buildings ever constructed, they were built using a portable robot arm and pump system that extrude a carefully blended adobe mixture. The adobe material is made from sand and clay sourced from Ron’s family farmland in Antonito. A juxtaposition of the deeply personal and detached automation, they explore the unison between handmade, ancient building types and the scalable, repetitive technology required to meet modern building needs. Each individual striation is the result of the printer’s orchestrated movements combined with the natural tendencies of the material.

From its conception, the Frontier has been an experiment in shelter. We believe in finding unique ways to inhabit space—and we are in full support of Ron’s mission to use adobe and 3D printing as a low cost, sustainable solution to housing shortages world wide. There are eight individual Skylo towers, which are adjoined in sets of twos, that create a total of four units. While each tower has distinct characteristics, together, they frame a portal view of the San Luis Valley’s unmatched night sky. Musicians enjoy the resonant sound quality, having a cathedral quality. The Skylos are available for unique installations and programming—inquire about opportunities with

A close up of the Skylos at the Frontier Drive-Inn
Interior view of the Skylos at the Frontier Drive-Inn
Four skylos at night with puck lights illuminating the exterior siding

Ron Rael is a designer, architect, activist, artist, and professor at UC Berkeley originally from the neighboring town of Antonito in the southeast region of the San Luis Valley. Ron’s work and interests connect indigenous and traditional material practices with technologies and additive manufacturing processes. As part of the duo Rael San Fratello, his work and research has been featured around the globe in institutions such as The Museum of Modern Art in New York, The Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, LACMA, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya.