Architecture

Work underway on EU's first 3D-printed concrete house

3D Housing 05 was conceived to demonstrate 3D printing architecture's efficacy
3D Housing 05 was conceived to demonstrate 3D printing architecture's efficacy
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3D Housing 05 will comprise 100 sq m (1,076 sq ft) of floorspace
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3D Housing 05 will comprise 100 sq m (1,076 sq ft) of floorspace
3D Housing 05 has been designed to demonstrate 3D printing architecture's efficacy
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3D Housing 05 has been designed to demonstrate 3D printing architecture's efficacy
3D Housing 05 will include a living area, bedroom, kitchen and bathroom
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3D Housing 05 will include a living area, bedroom, kitchen and bathroom
"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,"  says Arup's Guglielmo Carra
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"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,"  says Arup's Guglielmo Carra
3D Housing 05 will be unveiled in late April
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3D Housing 05 will be unveiled in late April
While we've no figures available, Arup told us that the project's cost will be "significantly lower" than a house of a similar type and size constructed using traditional methods
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While we've no figures available, Arup told us that the project's cost will be "significantly lower" than a house of a similar type and size constructed using traditional methods
3D Housing 05 was conceived to demonstrate 3D printing architecture's efficacy
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3D Housing 05 was conceived to demonstrate 3D printing architecture's efficacy

3D-printed architecture seems to have taken another step towards the mainstream, with the news that engineering firm Arup and CLS Architetti are collaborating on the first 3D-printed concrete house in the European Union. Named 3D Housing 05, the project was conceived to demonstrate the efficacy of the cutting-edge technology.

The prototype home is being constructed in Milan's central square, Piazza Cesare Beccaria, and will be officially unveiled during this year's Salone Del Mobile in April. The project also includes Italian cement supplier Italcementi and Cybe Construction.

Just like every other 3D-printed architecture project we've seen, the basic construction process involves extruding a cement mixture out of a nozzle layer by layer to build up the home's walls. However, 3D Housing 05 makes use of a robotic manipulator mounted on a movable base for increased flexibility rather than the more typical static printer.

Once the machine has done its work, humans are then required to finish off the roof, windows, and doors, as well as any other finishing touches. An Arup representative told us that the company is hoping to automate this part of the process in the future too.

The 3D Housing 05 project looks significantly larger and more complex than previous 3D-printed houses we've seen. It will comprise 100 sq m (1,076 sq ft) of floorspace laid out on one level, and include a living area, bedroom, kitchen and bathroom. It's also designed to be easily disassembled, so once Milan's design week comes to a close it can be broken down and installed elsewhere.

3D Housing 05 will comprise 100 sq m (1,076 sq ft) of floorspace
3D Housing 05 will comprise 100 sq m (1,076 sq ft) of floorspace

While we've no figures available, Arup told us that the project's cost will be "significantly lower" than a house of a similar type and size constructed using traditional methods, and that the printing process took just 48 hours. Arup also lauded the tech's potential to produce projects quicker and with less waste, for less money and more accurately than before. Naturally we'll be keen to follow up with the firm once it has the finished home ready to show off.

"The construction industry is one of the world's biggest users of resources and emitters of CO2," says Guglielmo Carra, Europe Materials Consulting Lead at Arup. "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."

Sources: Arup, CLS Architetti

4 comments
BanisterJH
3D printing walls from solid concrete always seems like a mistake to me. It's not a very good insulator, and there's no reinforcement passing vertically between the layers. I think using PVA fiber reinforced cellular (air entrained) concrete to print in place grid system insulating concrete forms, while having a person or robot place earthquake zone appropriate reinforcing bar as each layer of the grid is printed would make for a stronger house, and also an easier one to finish off, as the insulation would already be in place, and wiring and plumbing could more easily pass through the holes in the grid of solid concrete. I expect the problem that needs to be solved in order for this to work is injecting the fast setting additive along with the air entrainment foam, so that the mix of the concrete in the printer doesn't set up too quickly, but the aircrete sets up quickly enough to support the weight of the next layer without flowing away.
Expanded Viewpoint
Back in like 1967 I think it was, in Popular Mechanics they had an article about building homes similarly. There were two large flat panels that had a flexible material made into a belt that moved over those panels by a hydraulic motor. Sort of how a tank tread rolls over the ground, but set vertically. The spacing between the two panels could be adjusted for the thickness of the wall you wanted to create, and then a poly foam material was pumped in. The manipulator arm would move the panels sideways as the material was injected and cured. I would use a metal skeleton though to add rigidity to the walls. PVC conduit would have to be put into the wall for wiring and plumbing needs. Vertically cast sections could be made of the size and shape required to create the roof panels which would be hoisted into place and secured with bolts and nuts.
Douglas Bennett Rogers
This might be a good way of making a basement where basements are uncommon.
BrianK56
From the look of the pictures the walls appear to be hollow. This would make wiring , plumbing, insulation and reinforcements easy to install.