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Netherlands Will Welcome Its First Community of 3D-Printed Homes

Five concrete houses designed to look like “erratic blocks in a green landscape” will populate Eindhoven community

Artist's rendering of the futuristic community, which is set for development over the next five years (Houben/Van Mierlo)
smithsonian.com

The Netherlands' first functional 3D-printed home will be ready to welcome occupants as early as next year.

According to The Guardian’s Daniel Boffey, the one-story, two-bedroom house is the first and smallest of five 3D-printed concrete homes set for construction in the Dutch city of Eindhoven. The five-year initiative, known as Project Milestone, aims to combat the country’s shortage of skilled bricklayers and revitalize the architectural industry.

Project Milestone emerged as a collaboration between the Eindhoven University of Technology, a global leader in 3D printing, and Dutch construction company Van Wijnen. Real estate manager Vesteda, materials company Saint Gobain-Weber Beamix and engineering firm Witteveen+Bos also contributed to the project.

As ArchDaily’s Niall Patrick Walsh reports, construction will follow a phased approach in order to allow innovations gleaned from building the initial houses to influence the development of later models. The first house will be relatively small, measuring just 1,000 square feet, while the other four will be multi-story buildings. Although the interior and exterior walls of the first home will be printed at the Eindhoven University campus, architects hope to move printing onto the construction site by the end of the project.

The five houses, described in a press release as “erratic blocks in a green landscape,” derive their irregular shape from the advanced capabilities of 3D printing. In addition to producing almost any shape, 3D printing can incorporate various kinds, qualities and colors of concrete in a single element. The precision allowed by the process enables builders to finetune homes in accordance with architects’ or inhabitants’ wishes.

“We like the look of the houses at the moment as this is an innovation and it is a very futuristic design,” Van Wijnen manager Rudy Van Gurp tells Boffey. “But we are already looking to a take a step further and people will be able to design their own homes and then print them out. People will be able to make their homes suit them, personalize them, and make them more aesthetically pleasing.”

Boffey writes that the printing process features what is “essentially a huge robotic arm” squirting out layers of cement. In addition to allowing firms to cut costs and reduce the amount of concrete needed, the technology offers the possibility of creating “smart” homes with wireless sensors placed directly into the buildings’ walls.

This futuristic feature is just one of the ways in which the community’s real estate manager, Vesteda, will fulfill stated goals of meeting the “demands of current-day occupants concerning comfort, lay-out, quality and pricing.” According to Van Gurp, the houses have already generated strong interest amongst potential tenants.

“For the first house we already have 20 candidates,” he tells Boffey, “and that is after only a week of having the images on our website.”

The first 3D-printed home is set for completion by mid-2019. The remaining homes will be developed consecutively over the next five years.

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