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May 6, 2021

Dutch couple move into Europe's first fully 3D-printed house

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[Harrie Dekkers and Elize Lutz outside their 3D-printed house in Eindhoven, the Netherlands.]

From the Guardian:

New home in shape of boulder is first legally habitable property with load-bearing walls made using 3D-printing technology

A Dutch couple have become Europe's first tenants of a fully 3D-printed house in a development that its backers believe will open up a world of choice in the shape and style of the homes of the future.

Elize Lutz, 70, and Harrie Dekkers, 67, retired shopkeepers from Amsterdam, received their digital key — an app allowing them to open the front door of their two-bedroom bungalow at the press of a button — on Thursday.

"It is beautiful," said Lutz. "It has the feel of a bunker — it feels safe," added Dekkers.

Inspired by the shape of a boulder, the dimensions of which would be difficult and expensive to construct using traditional methods, the property is the first of five homes planned by the construction firm Saint-Gobain Weber Beamix for a plot of land by the Beatrix canal in the Eindhoven suburb of Bosrijk.

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[Harrie Dekkers and Elize Lutz inside their 3D-printed house]

In the last two years, properties partly constructed by 3D printing have been built in France and the US, and nascent projects are proliferating around the world.

"This is also the first one which is 100% permitted by the local authorities and which is inhabited by people who actually pay for living in this house," said Bas Huysmans, chief executive of Weber Benelux, a construction offshoot of its French parent company Saint-Gobain.

The first completed home of Project Milestone, a partnership with Eindhoven University of Technology and the Vesteda housing corporation, was due to be put on the rental market in 2019, but the challenges of the architect's design, which involved overhanging external walls, caused delays.

The 3D-printing method involves a huge robotic arm with a nozzle that squirts out a specially formulated cement, said to have the texture of whipped cream. The cement is "printed" according to an architect's design, adding layer upon layer to create a wall to increase its strength.

The point at which the nozzle head had to be changed after hours of operation is visible in the pattern of the new bungalow's walls, as are small errors in the cement printing, perhaps familiar to anyone who has used an ink printer.

But while it is early days, the 3D-printing method is seen by many within the construction industry as a way to cut costs and environmental damage by reducing the amount of cement that is used. In the Netherlands, it also provides an alternative at a time when there is a shortage of skilled bricklayers.

The new house consists of 24 concrete elements that were printed layer by layer at a plant in Eindhoven before being transported by lorry to the building site and placed on a foundation to be worked on by Dutch building firm Van Wijnen. A roof and window frames were then fitted, and finishing touches applied.

By the time the fifth of the homes is built — comprising three floors and three bedrooms — it is hoped that construction will be done wholly on-site and that various other installations will also be made using the printer, further reducing costs.

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[The point at which the nozzle head had to be changed after hours of operation is visible in the pattern of the new bungalow's walls.] 

"If you look at what time we actually needed to print this house it was only 120 hours," Huysmans said. "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."

Lutz and Dekkers, who have lived in four different types of home in the six years since their two grown-up daughters left the family home, are paying €800 (£695) a month to live in the property for six months starting August 1 after answering a call for applicants on the internet. "I saw the drawing of this house and it was exactly like a fairytale garden," said Lutz.

"With 3D printing you generate huge creativity and huge flexibility in design," he added. "Why did we do so much effort to print this 'rock?' Because this shows perfectly that you can make any shape you want to make."

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Yasin Torunoglu, alderman for housing and spatial development for the municipality of Eindhoven, said: "With the 3D-printed home, we're now setting the tone for the future: the rapid realization of affordable homes with control over the shape of your own house."

May 6, 2021 at 04:01 PM | Permalink


Comments

I had a similar thought, Scott -- but as long as moss or vines are not detrimental to the structure, I think they would be lovely.

Posted by: Ms. Radoo | May 7, 2021 9:32:22 AM

I can't help but wonder what time will do to the layered structure, which appears to be a natural for moss, vines or even grapes.

I hope their homeowner's insurance covers delamination.

Posted by: Scott | May 7, 2021 7:43:41 AM

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