06 Jul IS THE FUTURE OF SOCIAL HOUSING IN 3D PRINTING
The four-bedroom property is a prototype for bigger projects aiming to make housebuilding quicker and cheaper. Could it cause a shift in the building industry?
With curved walls designed to reduce the effects of humidity and digital controls for disabled people, this house could be an expensive realisation of an architect’s vision.
But having taken 54 hours to print – with four more months for contractors to add in things such as windows, doors and the roof – its cost of around £176,000 to build makes it 20% cheaper than an identical construction using more traditional solutions. The team now believe they could print the same house again in only 33 hours.
He believes the process will disrupt the construction industry. “For 2,000 years there hasn’t been a change in the paradigm of the construction process. We wanted to sweep this whole construction process away,” he says. “That’s why I’m saying that we’re at the start of a story. We’ve just written, ‘Once upon a time’.”
The house is designed in a studio by a team of architects and scientists, then programmed into a 3D printer. The printer is then brought to the site of the home. It works by printing in layers from the floor upwards. Each wall consists of two layers of the insulator polyurethane, with a space in-between which is filled with cement. This creates a thick, insulated, fully-durable wall.The windows, doors, and roof are then fitted. And, voila, you have a home.
He thinks that in five years they will reduce the cost of the construction of such houses by 25% while adhering to building regulations, and by 40% in 10 to 15 years. This is partly because of the technology becoming more refined and cheaper to develop and partly because of economies of scale as more houses are built.
Printing, he adds, also allows architects to be far more creative with the shapes of the houses they are building. For example, the house in Nantes was built to curve around the 100-year-old protected trees on the plot. The curve also improves the home’s air circulation, reducing potential humidity and improving thermal resistance. The building in Nantes was also designed for disabled people, with wheelchair access and the ability for everything to be controlled from a smartphone. It is also more environmentally-friendly than traditional construction, as there is no waste.