Multinational professional services firm Arup and US-based CLS Architects this week unveiled a new concrete three-dimensional (3D) printed house in central Milan, as part of the Salone del Mobile design festival.
Printed on site by a portable robot, the house demonstrates the role 3D printing can play in reducing construction waste, increasing efficiencies during the building process, and in allowing materials to be reused at the end of the building’s life, rather than ending up as landfill.
Arup says the construction industry is currently one of the world’s biggest users of resources. In the UK, it accounts for 60% of all raw materials consumed.
Arup Europe materials consulting lead Guglielmo Carra lamented that there needs to be a major shift in the way the construction industry operates, away from today’s “make, use, dispose” mentality.
“We have shown with this building that 3D printing technology is now advanced enough to take on more complex structures, and we can design buildings to be repurposed or reused at the end of their life.”
Carra adds that 3D printing technology is critical to helping the construction industry become far more accurate, efficient and less wasteful.
The concrete 3D printed house, the first of its kind within the European Union, can be taken apart and reassembled elsewhere.
In designing the house, Arup applied learnings from its innovative Circular Building approach, with construction out of fully reusable components.
The one-storey concrete house, located in the grand Piazza Cesare Beccaria, covers 100 m2, has curved walls, and includes a living area, bedroom, kitchen and bathroom.
The project differs from many other 3D printing processes in its use of a robotic manipulator, mounted on a movable base for increased flexibility compared with fixed 3D printers.
The house is made up of 35 modules that were printed in 60 to 90 minutes each. The full house was printed in just 48 hours’ effective time.
The building will be moved from the square to a new location after the festival.
Arup Italy building practice leader Luca Stabile comments that the building represents a milestone for 3D printing applied to construction and that the industry is fast moving towards increased levels of automation.
“Robots are opening up a number of possibilities for realising the next generation of advanced buildings. Digital tools combined with new technologies will enable the production of custom-made shapes that cannot be produced otherwise.
We are pushing the boundaries and contributing to radical innovation through new manufacturing technologies and materials,” Stabile elaborates.
A robot from Cybe Construction was used to print the walls, while the roof, windows and doors were completed afterwards. Cement supplier Italcementi provided advice for the base concrete mix that was used during the printing operations.