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Architects Begin 3D Printing a House

Monday, April 7, 2014

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An enormous print job is underway in Amsterdam—where architects say they are using a giant 3D printer to build a 13-room traditional Dutch canal house.

Layer by layer, the Dus Architects are printing out massive honeycomb-like blocks that fit together like Legos to construct the 3D Print Canal House, according to the Associated Press and other news outlets.

The walls are being reinforced with concrete, reports relate.

 3D Print Canal House / Vimeo.

Dus Architects, based in Amsterdam, are printing out massive honeycomb-like blocks that fit together like Legos to construct the 3D Print Canal House. The project is estimated to take three years; costs are unknown.

The project, expected to last three years, began a few weeks ago and its exhibition site has already warranted a visit from U.S. President Barack Obama, the firm announced on its website.

So far, a 9-foot-tall corner of the structure has been printed, weighing 397 pounds, according to The Guardian.

Full project details are available in this brochure; the architects also share their vision in this Vimeo video.

The 3D Printer for the Job

The print job is being performed by the KamerMaker, or “room builder,” a large, moveable 3D printer reportedly designed specifically for this project.

Using digital drawings, the machine pipes lines of molten plastic that are around 10 times as thick as the lines drawn by home 3D printers, Daily Mail reports. Not only are the walls and facades to be printed, but also the furniture for each of the 13 rooms.

Danis Guzzo / Dus Architects

The KamerMaker, or “room builder,” is a large, moveable 3D printer reportedly designed specifically for this project.

The plastic materials used for the structure are sustainable, the firm reports. The architects also say they are using newly developed bio-based raw materials in the process.

Ongoing Process to ‘Revolutionize’

While the project has started, the technology itself is still being perfected, the team reports. The architects say 3D printing could help transform the future of construction.

“The building industry is one of the most polluting and inefficient industries out there,” Hedwig Heinsman of Dus Architects told The Guardian. “With 3D-printing, there is zero waste, reduced transportation costs, and everything can be melted down and recycled.

“This could revolutionise how we make our cities,” she said.

3D Print Canal House
Dus Architects

The architecture firm says that 3D printing buildings could change the way we construct our cities.

The Dutch architects also say the process will further bridge the gap between designer, client and builder.

“Just imagine…It won’t be long before you can [go] online [to] select your favorite room designs made by your favorite architect and customize them to your personal taste,” the team says in a project description.

“You add personal data, such as size limits and location, and the rooms are then digitally connected and merged into your ideal house. You can 3D print scale models of the house, and when you’re totally content with the design call a contractor with a KamerMaker and place an order.”

Cost of the Printing

A spokesperson from Dus Architects told D+D News that it is “difficult” if not, “impossible” to give an estimate of the costs associated with the 3D print job at this point in the process.

“It is a research project funded by many different parties, including the municipality of Amsterdam, Amsterdam Fund for the Arts and the DOEN Foundation,” said Tosja Backer, expo manager, Dus Architects.

“By the end of [three years] we’ll be able to give a clear prognosis on time and costs of 3D printing a house,” Backer said.

Dus Architects aren't alone in the quest to print a 3D house. Last year, another Dutch architect, Janjaap Ruijssenaars, announced his intentions to print a 3D house based on the twisted Möbius strip (a surface with only one side and one boundary component). His plans are covered in "Architect Plans to 3D Print a Home."

Reactions Mixed

News of the canal house printing project has caused a stir.

Responding to a Washington Post report on the project, some readers questioned the building materials, including Lou H., who wrote, “Who wouldn’t want a house that can melt on top of you and release toxic pollutants.”

However, djdrew103 said, “[T]hese materials can be made fireproof or fire resistant quite easily where other building materials in common housing can only be made fire retardant.

“You are making them from scratch so you can build as you see fit, insulate and make energy efficient with many more options than with merely hiring contractors to throw a brick and wood house together.”

Other readers have questioned the structural integrity of such a building and the need for this type of technology.


Tagged categories: 3D printing; Architects; Architecture; Building design; Color + Design; Design; Residential Construction

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