Possibly the most exciting technological innovation of the decade, in terms of the impact it’s projected to have, 3-D printing never seems ceasing to amaze us with its unrivaled potential. We’ve seen 3-D printed titanium jaw bones for implants, nanoscale F-1 cars, an ear or live tissue by 3-D printing of stem cells. A number of architecture firms are now competing for whose to be the first to build a fully 3-D printed house.
Softkill Design seems to be on the forefront on this particular quest, putting forth a design that’s as futuristic as the technology it relies on, but which is better off left described by these photos than by words. Some have tried though and have either called it “a dinosaur head made of spaghetti” or “a giant spider cave”. One thing’s for sure, it’s definitely macabre! Buy, hey, at least it’s eco-friendly.
According to the London architecture firm, the Protohouse, as it’s been dubbed, will be made all out of laser-sintered bioplastic and can be built off-site in three weeks and assembled in a single day. To be more precise, the 3-D printed 31 truckbed-sized pieces are assembled incredibly fast simply by snapping them together, requiring no adhesive, welding or any other constructions fastening work – not even duct tape.
“It will hopefully be the first actual 3D printed house on site,” said Gilles Retsin of Softkill Design. “We are hoping to have the first prototype out in the summer.”
“These highly fibrous structures are only 0.7 millimetres thick,” he added. “It’s impossible to print those with stone, because there’s not enough structure or strength or integrity in sand. In the factory environment you can go into stronger materials like plastics or metals.”
The Protohouse is set to eight metres wide and four metres long and will be printed in sections in a factory. It’s wacky structure might seem like it came out of some artsy intentions, but it’s actually molded around structural mechanics, since it’s actual intention is that of depositing plastic only where it’s needed.
“You’re aiming to use the smallest amount of material to achieve the strongest structure,” Retsin explained. And if you push that through to the extreme you get something that is extremely fibrous and extremely thin.”
Meanwhile, however, a Dutch architecture company, Universe Architecture, also wants to join the 3-D constructions pioneering wave, and while their project doesn’t look as extravagant, or frightening for that matter as its UK rival, it still boasts a design that inspires.
Only one problem, though, the Landscape House won’t exactly be fully 3-D printed. Instead, whole sections using the giant D-Shape printer, which can produce sections of up to 6 x 9 metres using a mixture of sand and a binding agent, will be created to form the main structure. These hollow volumes will be filled with fibre-reinforced concrete to give it strength, which then join together to create the house.
Does the house’s design seem familiar? Maybe because it’s made to look like a mobius strip -a 3D geometric shape with no beginning or end – which is why maybe the Dutch architects enlisted mathematician and artist Rinus Roelofs to develop the house, which they estimate will take around 18 months to complete. It might take a while before they commence production though since the architects still need to wait for a buyer for the project and at a $5.3 million price tag, they might have to wait a while.
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