Architecture

Prototype low-cost house is 3D-printed using mud

Prototype low-cost house is 3D...
Gaia's €900 (roughly US$1,000) budget only covers the materials and not any labor costs
Gaia's €900 (roughly US$1,000) budget only covers the materials and not any labor costs
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Gaia's €900 (roughly US$1,000) budget only covers the materials and not any labor costs
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Gaia's €900 (roughly US$1,000) budget only covers the materials and not any labor costs
Structurally, Gaia's "mud" is a compound made up of 25 percent soil taken from the build site in Italy (consisting of clay, sand, and silt), 40 percent straw, 25 percent rice husk and 10 percent lime, all mixed together with a muller
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Structurally, Gaia's "mud" is a compound made up of 25 percent soil taken from the build site in Italy (consisting of clay, sand, and silt), 40 percent straw, 25 percent rice husk and 10 percent lime, all mixed together with a muller
Gaia is accessed by glass doors 
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Gaia is accessed by glass doors 
The construction process involved extruding the mud mixture out of a WASP 3D printer's nozzle in layers, slowly building up the structure
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The construction process involved extruding the mud mixture out of a WASP 3D printer's nozzle in layers, slowly building up the structure
Top-down view of the construction site in Italy 
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Top-down view of the construction site in Italy 
Constructing Gaia took a total of 10 days
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Constructing Gaia took a total of 10 days
Gaia's walls are made solely of the mud mixture, though the structure is also supported by concrete foundations 
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Gaia's walls are made solely of the mud mixture, though the structure is also supported by concrete foundations 
WASP reports that Gaia is well insulated and will perform well in heat and cold
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WASP reports that Gaia is well insulated and will perform well in heat and cold
The interior of Gaia measures 20 sq m (215 sq ft) and is topped by a timber roof
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The interior of Gaia measures 20 sq m (215 sq ft) and is topped by a timber roof
Architectural drawing of Gaia 
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Architectural drawing of Gaia 
Architectural drawing of Gaia 
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Architectural drawing of Gaia 
Architectural drawing of Gaia 
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Architectural drawing of Gaia 
Architectural drawing of Gaia 
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Architectural drawing of Gaia 
Architectural drawing of Gaia 
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Architectural drawing of Gaia 

We've been following the work of Italian 3D-printing firm WASP (World's Advanced Saving Project) for some time and have previously reported on its Big Delta and clay and straw shelter projects. Its latest creation is its most fascinating to date though, and consists of a 3D-printed hut that's built using a mud mixture and was produced for just €900 (roughly US$1,000).

Specifically, Gaia's mud mix consists of 25 percent soil taken from the build site in Italy, 40 percent straw, 25 percent rice husk and 10 percent lime. The resulting compound is used for the walls, but the roof is timber and the foundations are actually 3D-printed concrete.

It was built, with help from a firm called Rice House, using the same 3D printer that produced WASP's previous projects. The construction process was very similar to other 3D-printed projects we've previously reported on, and involved extruding the mud mixture out of a nozzle in layers, while slowly building up the structure.

The hut features a window and a glazed door, and its 20 sq m (215 sq ft) interior, though basic, actually looks quite pleasant, with the wood and clay finish giving the place a clean look. WASP reports that it's well insulated and will perform well in heat and cold.

The interior of Gaia measures 20 sq m (215 sq ft) and is topped by a timber roof
The interior of Gaia measures 20 sq m (215 sq ft) and is topped by a timber roof

It's still early days in the project yet though. Gaia took a considerable 10 days to build and doesn't actually contain any furniture, nor a bathroom, or bedroom, for example. Additionally, its €900 budget only covers the materials and not any labor costs, so the cost of producing it in normal conditions would be a lot higher.

That said, WASP told us that it's currently developing a new strategy with a view to building the homes in select developing countries, so perhaps the firm will be able to speed things up and keep costs reasonable as the project progresses.

Check out the video below for a look at the construction process.

Source: WASP

3D printing earth house with Crane WASP | work in progress

5 comments
paul314
So is there a terrible shortage of labor in the places where such houses would be built? Because if not, then automating jobs away seems a little pointless.
Tom Lee Mullins
I think building a 3D house using local material is good thing. It still requires some people working on it but that is a good thing too.
Grunchy
It looks like there are posts inside to hold the roof up, and I guess it's because the walls aren't sufficiently strong. And that's possibly because the walls are printed hollow, and I suppose that is because they want to make walls with less mud so that they conserve on the mud.......... But now I wonder why I couldn't do a form method and build a cheaper hut with sturdier more massive walls and integrated beams and no robot. And maybe a rectangular floor plan instead of round!
ljaques
Just maybe: "And we built it with mud because using concrete would have ended up costing nearly $200 more." I wonder if anyone in those towns actually -wants- a home which looks like that. China has a good idea. When they send people to help in other countries, the people ask what the villagers need and what they want. Then they send the equipment to do that and train them on it, leaving the pumps, dozers, etc. there. Very quick, very easy, 100% welcomed by the villagers, and considerably cheaper than how we do it. (I think they follow Ernesto.) Also, here is a link to a TED talk by Ernesto Sirolli which I hope everyone watches and forwards to everyone they can think of. If there were more people like him, the world would have far fewer problems and far less strife. https://is.gd/clDt9Z (YT link)
Nik
Perhaps WASP should go to Africa, and see just how long it takes to produce a mud hut, by hand, and then compare it with their attempt, and compare the cost. I would guess that getting their equipment to site alone would exceed the time taken to build a mud hut by hand, and the cost in materials, to make the machine, and power it, divided by one made by hand would be a large number. 'Cob' built buildings are strong, well insulated, easy to repair, and dont need expensive power supplies. This WASP system seems like a very complicated solution looking for a problem, and would probably have an African laughing for days after he had built his own hut, and was already living in it while the WASP machinery was still being brought to site and assembled.