A technology that’s been gaining quite the momentum over the past few years, 3D Printing is an effective means to realize and bring to life, design of any form and order. Initially an experimental technique, the idea has grown a thousandfold to now be capable of constructing larger built forms. It has been speculated for almost a decade that it will replace existing norms in construction methods and now, the notion is slowly becoming reality. 

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True, starting with the most primary typologies, there do exist a handful of residential projects around the world that harness the potential of 3D Printing as the primary construction technique. 

With the ability to print everyday materials like concrete, the technology is set to take the AEC industry by storm, with larger and much more complex projects getting ready to establish concrete 3D Printing as an alternative to conventional building. 

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Here are 10 recent residential projects 3D printed in concrete that herald the advent of this technology in practice. 

1. 3D Printed House 1.0  by Emerging Objects

A case study residence commissioned by Jin Hai Lake Resort, Beijing, this design makes use of locally harvested salt and concrete to create a built form with juxtaposed elements making it aesthetic, structurally sound, and sustainable. 

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3D printed house ©Emerging Objects

While the load-bearing components are built of cast-in-place concrete, the exterior cladding is made from a special 3D printed, fiber-reinforced cement polymer developed by the designers. 

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3D printed house ©Emerging Objects
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3D printed house ©Emerging Objects

The interiors are punctured by a series of double-high salt volumes, also additively manufactured, defining the boundaries of the interior spaces. The organization of the solid volumes contrasts starkly against the large spatial field with minimal elements. 

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3D printed house ©Emerging Objects
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3D printed house ©Emerging Objects

2. Curve Appeal by WATG Urban

A prize-winning design for The Freeform Home Design Challenge, 2016, the design office WATG Urban has been developing the Curve Appeal for construction; the project has been conceived to completely change the way freeform concrete structures are realized. 

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Curve Appeal ©WATG Urban

Collaborating with the firm Branch Technology that specializes in 3D Printing, the workflow developed makes robotic fabrication with concrete a lot simplified and less expensive to construct. 

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Curve Appeal ©WATG Urban

The arching form developed in the design enables large open floor plans to be created, with minimally provided springing points rendering structural rigidity. 

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Curve Appeal ©WATG Urban

3. 3D Printed House in Milan, by CLS Architetti and Arup

Exhibited in the Milan Design Week, CLS Architetti and Engineering firm Arup have 3D printed a concrete house over the course of just a week! The 100 sq. m. house is made out of 35 modules individually printed on-site, later assembled together.

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3D printed house ©CLS Architetti and Arup

Although the design here is a prototype, the Architects are planning to take the technology further, to make houses quickly and cost-effectively in places where needed the most. The designers emphasize the versatility of the method used – of not being constrained by rectilinear geometries, and that the printing could happen anywhere.

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3D printed house ©CLS Architetti and Arup

The printing process resulted in extremely less construction waste and the designers claim that the material could be reused at the end of the lifespan, then end up in a landfill. 

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3D printed house ©CLS Architetti and Arup

4. One Piece Concrete House, by Kamp C

Built with a fixed 3D concrete printer, the biggest one in Europe, this is the first house to be 3D printed as one single piece. Located in Westerlo, Belgium, the house features two floors and was completed over three weeks. 

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3D printed house ©CLS Architetti and Arup

The design focussed on showcasing the potential of 3D printing technology and how precisely and economically the construction could be completed. 

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One piece concrete house ©Kamp C and Jasmien Smets

The designers have included building services in the project, like floor and ceiling heating, facade solar panels, and a heat pump, with plans for adding a green roof. 

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One piece concrete house ©Kamp C and Jasmien Smets

5. 3D printed community housing in Latin America, by Yves Béhar

Yves Béhar, founder of the firm Fuseproject, teaming up with non-profit New Story and homebuilding tech company Icon, has created a housing project to support farming communities in Latin America. 

The design has been conceived in a way to utilize the economy and quick realization of the project from the 3D printing workflows. 

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Community housing ©Fuseproject

Béhar says that the design model has been developed as a system capable of modification, responding to different programs, climate factors, and growth of families and spaces. The design features a large curved roof with overhangs on the front and back to shelter from heavy rainfalls. 

Plus, a series of patterned blocks above the lintel enables adequate daylighting in the internal spaces, while all elements and furniture in the interior are 3D printed. 

6. Project Milestone by Eindhoven University + Houben and Van Mierlo Architecten

The world’s first commercial housing project to employ the 3D printing methodology, Project Milestone aims to construct 5 houses by concrete printing, one by one, thus being able to learn from each build. Whilst the first house is a single-story, the four houses that follow it will all be multi-storied with many bedrooms and auxiliary spaces. 

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Project milestone ©Eindhoven University of Technology and Houben & Van Mierlo Architecten

The designers say that the houses will meet all modern comfort requirements, and will be purchased and let out by a real estate company, in Eindhoven. The design features balcony recesses, deep-set fenestrations, and curved walls, which are said to be easily achieved, thanks to the ability of robotic fabrication to construct virtually any form. 

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Project milestone ©Eindhoven University of Technology and Houben & Van Mierlo Architecten

7. DFAB House by ETH Zurich

Designed by 8 professors from ETH Zurich along with business partners, DFAB House consists of 3 stories and is conceived and built from predominantly digital processes. The design aims to bring multiple building technologies together, beyond just additive manufacturing, thus exploring the advantage of each method along with their synergies. 

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DFAB House ©ETH Zurich

Firstly, steel-wire mesh sections are created by an in-situ fabricator; the mesh not only is a formwork but also functions as reinforcement. This is then filled with a special mix of concrete that remains inside without leaking out through the gaps, creating a rigid load-bearing structure which is topped with a ceiling slab from a 3D sand printer. Two more stories follow the same procedure, creating the 200 sq. m. house. 

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DFAB House ©ETH Zurich
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DFAB House ©ETH Zurich

8. 3D Printed Affordable Homes for the Homeless, by Icon

Designed and built for Austin’s Community First! Village, Icon has conceived the project to support people coming out of chronic homelessness. Built in just 27 hours, each house could be completed at a significantly lower cost than conventional houses. The design team constructed 6 houses initially, with plans for more to follow. 

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Affordable homes ©Icon and Regan Morton
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Affordable homes ©Icon and Regan Morton

The design depends very much on automated machinery, advanced software, and a special mix of proprietary concrete called Lavacrete, and thus the extremely speedy construction. The project is the first legally permitted, concrete printed homes in the US, with aims for creating a neighborhood to house at least 40% of Austin’s homeless population. 

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Affordable homes ©Icon and Regan Morton

9. Prvok by Michal Trpak + Scoolpt

A floating 3D printed house, Prvok is Czech Republic’s first house built by additive manufacturing technology. Printed in just 22 hours, the house covers an area of 43 sq. m. weighing 43 tons. 

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Prvok ©Scoolpt

The house features a sustainable green roof, thus allowing water recovery systems to be installed. The printed concrete walls are claimed to be at least 3 times stronger than conventional ones. The project is on display, floating on a deck in the Vltava river, Prague. 

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Prvok ©Scoolpt

10. 3D printed residential building, by PERI GmbH and MENSE-KORTE ingenieure + architekten

A two-story detached house in Beckum, Germany, the design provides 80 sq. m. of living space per floor, in a system approved for the first time in the country. The designers and engineers have brought about 3D concrete printing to be market-ready. 

The project was actually printed at a slower rate than what is possible, to learn and gain further experience for upcoming builds. 

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Residential building © MENSE-KORTE ingenieure+architekten

The building features cavity walls with three skins to make way for filling with an insulating compound for thermal comfort. It was also possible to install plumbing lines and other services within the printing area, even when the printing was in progress, further speeding up project completion. 

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Residential building ©MENSE-KORTE ingenieure+architekten

References

  1. New Story and ICON Unveil the First Permitted 3D-Printed Home | ICON
  2. Community First! Village 3D-Printed Affordable Homes by ICON
  3. 3D Printed House: 20 Most Important Projects in 2020
  4. Prvok
Author

Still a student midway in his Undergrad, Harish interests himself in using the medium of the Written Word and believes in innovation and tech to venture beyond irrelevant status quos in Design and Architecture. He aspires to expand the reach of our disciplinepast just cities, to the non-urbanas well. He feels that the design discourse does not have enough professional critics, and wishes to become one someday!

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