A Dutch couple have moved in to Europe’s first ever habitable 3D-printed house in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, where they will be tenants for the next six months.
1. The house
Elize Lutz and Harrie Dekkers, retired shopkeepers from Amsterdam, are renting the two-bedroom bungalow at the cutting edge of housing construction, for €800 per month. The couple’s new home is 94-square metres and is the world’s first habitable 3D-printed property with load-bearing walls. The property was printed at a nearby factory and can be built in just five days. Looking somewhat like a giant boulder with windows, the house has layers of printed concrete which are clearly visible, including a few places where printing problems caused imperfections. The new tenants received a digital key for the house, an app that allows them to open the front door at the press of a button.
The Eindhoven home is constructed of 24 concrete elements which were printed by a machine that squirts layer upon layer of concrete, giving a ribbed texture to its walls both inside and out. The finishing touches, such as the roof, were added later and the printed elements are hollow and filled with insulation material. The process uses concrete with the consistency of toothpaste which ensures it is strong enough to build with but also wet enough for the layers to stick to one another. To take a look at the construction process, watch the official video.
Bas Huysmans, Chief Executive of construction firm Weber Benelux, said, “This is also the first one which is 100 per cent permitted by the local authorities and which is habited by people who actually pay for living in this house.” He continued, “If you look at what time we actually needed to print this house it was only 120 hours. So all the elements, if we would have printed them in one go, it would have taken us less than five days because the big benefit is that the printer does not need to eat, does not need to sleep, it doesn’t need to rest. So if we would start tomorrow, and learned how to do it, we can print the next house five days from now.”
3. The project
The 3D printed home was created through a collaboration between city hall, Eindhoven’s Technical University and construction companies, called Project Milestone. The project plans to build five houses in the same way, perfecting their techniques with each one, with future homes having more than one floor.
The project shows potential for these type of homes, which are quicker to build than traditional houses and use less concrete. It is hoped that more buildings like these could help in solving current housing shortages in the Netherlands, which needs to build hundreds of thousands of new homes this decade to accommodate a growing population. Supporters say the technology could really reduce building costs, making properties more affordable, as well as decreasing the amount of cement used in construction which is responsible for an estimated 8 percent of the world’s CO2 emissions.
Prof Theo Salet, a professor at Eindhoven’s Technical University, is working in 3D printing (or additive manufacturing), and argues that houses can be printed in the future using 30 per cent less material, as printing can deposit the material only where you need it, saving waste. He called the new home a “major step” toward scaling up 3D printing technology, saying that “Digitisation from design to implementation leads to sustainable and affordable homes, tailor-made to the wishes of the resident.” He believes that the technology is promising for the construction industry. “If you ask me, will we build one million of the houses, as you see here? The answer is no. But will we use this technology as part of other houses combined with wooden structures…then my answer is yes,” he said. Elsewhere, a new generation of start-ups in the USA are also looking to bring this futuristic method of building to the mainstream.