Europe’s First On-Site 3D-Printed House Is Unveiled
Emily Pollock posted on April 25, 2018 | | 2787 views
Front façade of the 3D housing 05, Europe’s first 3D-printed house created onsite. Curved wall modules and a rooftop garden soften the harsh, ridged concrete of the house’s exterior walls. (Image courtesy of 3D housing 05.)
Front façade of the 3D housing 05, Europe’s first 3D-printed house created onsite. Curved wall modules and a rooftop garden soften the harsh, ridged concrete of the house’s exterior walls. (Image courtesy of 3D housing 05.)

Europe’s first on-site 3D-printed house was recently on display at the Salone del Mobile design festival in Milan this month. The “3D housing 05” was printed in under 48 hours, and the structure can be taken apart and moved to an alternate location after the festival ends.

Designed by architect Massimiliano Locatelli, the house is a collaboration between the engineering firm Arup and the architecture studio CLS Architetti, and is named after the five central themes of the project—creativity, sustainability, flexibility, affordability and speed.

The house was 3D printed on-site by CyBe Construction’s CyBe RC 3Dp, which the company bills as the first mobile 3D concrete printer. Mounted on a moveable base for better flexibility than a traditional 3D printer, the RC 3Dp pours a special concrete mix through a nozzle mounted on its flexible arm, building walls layer by layer. The 3D housing 05 is made up of 35 separate wall modules, each of which were printed in 60-90 minutes. After the printing was completed, workers installed the structure’s windows, doors and furniture.

The finished product clocks in at an impressive 1,076 square feet, divided into a living area, a bedroom, a kitchen area featuring a kitchenette and a small dining area, and a bathroom. The coarse white concrete of the structure’s walls was left deliberately exposed to provide a contrast to the sleek furniture contained inside, and the look is softened by the stairs-accessible rooftop garden terrace, which features plant life spilling down the walls. In their review of the 3D housing 05, NewAtlas called it "the most fully realized and livable 3D-printed house we've seen to date."

Of course, people have been drawing comparisons between the 3D housing 05 and the world’s first inhabited 3D-printed building, Dubai’s famous Office of the Future. The 2,690-square-foot office building was built in 2016 by construction company WinSun. The Office of the Future’s size meant that it took 17 days to print the parts, and a further two days to install the structure on-site. However, the biggest difference between the two projects was the printer used. While the 3D housing 05 was printed by a smaller, mobile unit, its predecessor in Dubai was printed by a stationary robot measuring 20 x 120 x 40ft. The improvement in mobile robot technology since the office building was created has fascinating implications for printing the 3D buildings of the future.

And, although many have dismissed 3D-printed buildings as temporary and gimmicky, the team behind the 3D housing 05 is very much planning for a long-haul future. Rather than a display-and-dispose project meant only as a festival showpiece, the 3D housing 05 was built so that it could be disassembled and rebuilt on a different site after the festival ends. And the house’s re-use value is only one facet of the team’s commitment to sustainability.

“The construction industry is one of the world’s biggest users of resources and emitters of CO2,” said Guglielmo Carra, Arup’s materials consulting lead. “We want to bring a paradigm shift in the way the construction industry operates and believe that 3D printing technology is critical to making buildings more sustainable and efficient. It creates less waste during construction, and materials can be repurposed and reused at the end of their life.”

"The whole idea was to show to the world that there is an alternative possibility for construction—that with new 3D printing technology it is possible to build a house in a week," a CLS Architetti representative said in an interview with Dezeen. “And, also, to show that there is a flexibility with the plans—the walls don't always have to be straight and that it could be built anywhere; you could even print on Mars if you want." But, even here on earth, people are excited about the design possibilities.

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