The Dutch design firm, Dus Architects, have announced that work is finally underway on a 3D printed canal house in Amsterdam. All fabricated using their giant KamerMaker 3D printer.
So are we going to see something not too dissimilar to those concrete prefab monstrosities which arrived in the 1950’s?
Hedwig Heinsman of Dus explains,
“With 3D-printing, there is zero waste, reduced transportation costs, and everything can be melted down and recycled. This could revolutionise how we make our cities.”
Dus sees a future where people could choose pre-designed rooms. They would choose their preferred rooms and assemble them into a single design file. The architects could of course refine the design. Then comes the interesting bit – simply hit the print button. As the material is relatively easy to recycle, buildings could be printed, shredded, and printed anew.
What ambition and what a vision that this design firm have. And no they have not all been smoking too much in their local Amsterdam café. However, to be fair you do have to look at the cost per ton of concrete, bricks or wood before you get too excited. In addition the structural and thermo dynamic properties of plastic.
When making buildings I am assured by a good architect friend that you can’t just do things in any old way you fancy. Material often dictates what you can and can’t do. His comments were, “I just don’t see this being a realistic proposition this side of Christmas or the next for anything but a one-off show piece”. Structural engineers will probably need to pin it in quite a few places when the building is put under load. New types of structure using non-standard materials also need to undergo rigorous testing for all types of environmental impacts.
However, all that aside, I was simply thinking, who will want a plastic house as opposed to one made out of nice soft red bricks or a timber frame with wooden cladding. It is bad enough that architects were allowed during the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s to plaster our cities with concrete pimples on the backside of humanity and that they escaped custdodial sentences. Plastic does not seem like an aesthetic option. O.K – negativity over.
What this project does show and for a lot of credit is that people are really trying to push the boundaries of 3D printing out as far as they can go. It is a great project because it is full of big ideas, there is an ecological slant to it and you therefore have to wish them luck in gathering attention.