Dutch architects are planning to use the world’s biggest 3D printer to build the first ever 3D-printed house.
Amsterdam-based Universe Architecture’s Landscape House will be printed in sections using the giant computer-controlled D-Shape printer, mixing sand and an emulsion binding agent to print the house in 5-10mm thick layers, producing continuous sections of up to 6m x 9m.
The 1,100m2 building will take the form of a Mobius strip, a continuous figure of eight-shaped loop comprising numerous hollow volumes printed in 3D, filled with fibre-reinforced concrete to give the structure strength. Only the glass and steel facades will be built separately.
The team is currently working with mathematician and artist Rinus Roelofs to develop the house, which would cost about 4 million euros and take around 18 months to construct. Various clients have shown an interest in buying it, including a Brazilian national park.
According to architect Janjaap Ruijssenaars, the initial plan was not to print the building, but the high-tech medium turned out to be the most appropriate.
“We wanted to create a building that embodied the essence of landscape, we felt that it should be continuous and have no beginning and no end, hence the Mobius loop idea,” he said.
When trying to make models of the building, Ruijssenaars realised that a 3D printer was the only means of creating this sense of continuity as it allowed the structure to be built up from the bottom without visible joins.
The printer is the brainchild of Italian Enrico Dini, who gave up a well-paid job in robotics to design it. “Up until now it has only been possible to print a solid column, but thanks to Enrico, the D-Shape can create a curved profile or a beam able to withstand higher stresses and bending forces,” said Ruijssenaars.
In the future, Ruijssenaars claims the technique could be used to print houses cheaply for the poor by transporting the printer direct to site and even using nearby ground up rubble as the sand element of the printing. Indeed, Universe Architecture was approached this week by a South African company interested in this possibility.
3D printing could also provide a fast and more effective alternative to using formwork for concrete, said Ruijssenaars: “Traditional wooden formwork is unable to create complex shapes and it takes ages to dismantle, but 3D printing allows you to directly print the shape you want, eradicating the need for moulds,” he said.