In the future, 3D printers will help architects quickly build efficient mass housing projects from recycled materials, effectively solving the worldwide housing crisis while reducing the industry’s dependency on raw materials — of course, that idealistic vision at this point remains light years away. A bold group of Dutch architects, however, have decided to bring this utopian future a little closer. DUS Architects have commenced building an experimental 3D house along a canal in Amsterdam. And, now you can go watch 3D materials slowly coagulated into a house!
To build the 3D Print Canal House, DUS purchased a shipping container on the internet, and transformed it into a giant 3D printer with the help of printer experts. Named the “Kamer Maker,” (Dutch for “room maker”) the DIY printer is one of the largest of its kind on the planet, and hangs from a truck-mounted crane to start churning out the base of the house. So far, the printer created plastic furniture and unusual honeycomb-shaped walls, which eventually will create a distinctive structure with a tessellated facade.
DUS was already printing with smaller printers, but saw the opportunity to create unique buildings from recycled plastics and other materials by scaling the size appropriately. The canal house typology was chosen for its ornamental facade and its history as a place for trade, living, and working. The honeycomb walls reinterpret the ornamental elements of the canal house, which are printed to build each room individually. The rooms are then assembled together to form the house, echoing the construction of modular homes. Like many canal houses, DUS’s 3D printed prototype will also feature a more ornate crown, while all materials will come from discarded sources.
According to Gizmodo, DUS’s radical prototype is very much still in an experimental phase, as the printer thus far has not always been successful in managing to spread the plastic materials evenly. Still, DUS sees huge benefits from jumpstarting the foray into 3D printed housing. “We need a rapid building technique to keep up with the pace of growth of mega cities. We think 3D printing can actually be that technique to provide good housing,” says Hans Vermeulen of DUS. “We think Kamer Makers can be placed around the globe to print solutions that respond to local contexts with local materials.” Currently, DUS’s model takes about a week to build a 10-foot high piece, while the overall house could take up to three years to finish.
3D printed housing has a long way to go. However, DUS’s concept represents an effort to take the modular building process out of the factory and onto the streets, where people can engage with the structure and its designers. Tickets to visit the site currently cost €2.50, with proceeds being donated to the project. If you’re in Amsterdam, stop by and see what the future of the city’s canal houses might look like.
Images via Gizmodo