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Would you live in a 3D-printed house?

The Netherlands will soon be home to the world’s first concrete 3D-printed properties. But would you live in one?

We’ve discussed possible answers to the UK’s housing crisis on Convo before, but could this be the best solution put forward yet? A team of Dutch builders plans to build functional and habitable 3D-printed homes.

The process, which supporters say will revolutionise the construction industry, involves spraying specially formulated concrete layer upon layer into the desired shape.

The concept behind this concrete printing is the same as high street 3D printers, on which you can  print three dimensional models and designs at home.

The University of Eindhoven and building firm Van Wijnen say they will use the method to build five new homes in the Dutch city, the first of which will be completed and put on the rental market next year.

Printing progress

The process has many benefits, according to proponents. They claim it will cut costs and environmental damage, as less concrete is used compared to previous building methods.

3D printing will also give builders new freedom in building design, the university said:

‘The design of the houses is based on erratic blocks in a green landscape… the irregular shape of the buildings can be realised thanks to one of the key features of 3D printing: the ability to construct almost any shape.’

They also claim that the use of 3D printing could open up the possibility of placing wireless sensors directly into the property’s walls to allow greater use of ‘smart’ tech – integrating all the lighting, heating and security controls.

Property specs

The homes will be produced one by one, the developers aiming to learn from each subsequent construction. To begin with, parts will be printed at the university – but the project aims eventually to move all ‘printing’ to the building site.

The first house will be a three-bedroom bungalow, followed by several multi-storey homes. The bungalow will have only its interior and exterior walls made using the printer, but the latter homes may see drainage pipes and other features 3D printed.

Buildings have been constructed using 3D printing in the past, but the Eindhoven team claims their project will be the first to produce the first ‘commercially viable’ and habitable 3D-printed home.

Housing solution?

Personally, I love the idea of 3D-printed buildings and houses: it opens up building design to loads of exciting new possibilities and it could make buying a home cheaper.

It could even encourage developers to move on from the traditional, and often monotonous, brick-built estates, which have been the go-to for new housing for about 40 years – and, in my opinion, that would be a good thing.

Imagine new housing estates filled with quirky, individual houses such as those in the artist’s impression of Eindhoven above… it’d be an exciting place to live (although feel free to disagree with me).

And if the method makes buying a home cheaper and is better to the environment, so much the better.

Would you live in a 3D-printed concrete home or do you prefer traditional bricks and mortar?

Comments

Wow! I’ve got to admit, I’ve never considered 3D homes before but the idea sounds great. There is definitely a lot of room for creativity.

Buildings built from bricks and mortar generally retain a decent appearance as they age, whereas concrete does not, partly because it starts off with a uniform appearance. I don’t know whether then printed buildings are bare concrete or painted but it will be interesting to find out how their appearance changes with time.

The integration of lighting, heating and security controls seems sensible but I wonder if this will make subsequent repairs and updating very expensive, which is what has happened with cars and washing machines.

It’s thought provoking, Oscar, and I wonder if there are any plans to introduce these new buildings in the UK.

I have watched concrete deteriorate over the years , the mix used would need to be of the highest quality and, I take it reinforced and that brings us to the reinforcing material –steel rods ??- rust causes a chemical reaction . How many bridges have you seen collapse over many decades even our Forth Road Bridge had deterioration that helped prompt the new one being built , lanes were closed for remedial work to be carried out. Would they last longer than post war Prefabs ? they didn’t fall apart just proved inadequate for modern day living and yes there were many in the area I grew up in.

James May built a Lego house but that didn’t catch on.

I would have thought constructing buildings from prefabricated sections, factory-made and complete with all services, was a far more practical proposition both in cost and quality control.

Quirky doesn’t work with me. I think we have far too many architects’ vanity projects that are just different for the sake of it, and we are then stuck with them for decades. We have one locally that most residents deplore but somehow gained listing (not the Pisa type unfortunately) and seems immune to destruction now.

You might be surprised to learn that I have a traditional view of buildings. I like bricks and tiles that give texture and colour, and permanence, to homes. However they are labour intensive and I wonder when robotic will play a larger part in estate building? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MVWayhNpHr0

I also have the same traditionalist views on house building malcolm a lot of homeowners money is put into keeping old preservation order and Listed homes up to scratch round about me, but its worth it . I watched 60,s concrete housing being built in a large city but had major condensation problems and 30/40 years later – blown up ,same with many “high flats ” while my 1830,s (or earlier ) cottage still going strong .