The idea of 3D-printed houses has only just arrived as Singapore plans on 3D printing public housing and due to the mesmerizing 3D-printed Canal House in Amsterdam. By the first half of 2017, first freeform 3D printed house known as ‘Curve Appeal’ will be witnessed by the world thanks to the Freeform Home Design Challenge held by a Tennessee-based startup Branch Technology.
This 800-square-foot single-family home will be constructed in Chattanooga, Tennessee designed by the winner of the competition—WATG’s Chicago-based Urban Architecture Studio that comprises of Daniel Caven, Chris Hurst, Miguel Alvarez and Brent Watanabe. This home will be built in such a locality which honours the natural environment of Tennessee as per the competition’s requirement of looking to the natural world for design motivation. This home is more or less a glass-panelled structure enfolded by a dynamic, sleek cave-like form comprising of a kitchen, a bathroom, a living area and a bedroom. Founder and CEO at Branch Technology, Platt Boyd stated:
“The exterior skin is derived from simple yet careful calculated archways that ultimately blends with the site leaving an organic presence.”
In addition to this, the house also has features like instant and passive heating and cooling strategies, sunlight shading, among others which are environmentally friendly.
Nevertheless, the most distinguished attribute of this house is its construction. Unlike conventional 3D printing which entails a layer-by-layer build process typically limited to the confines of a 3D printer that needs to be bigger than the object being printed, this house is constructed by freeform 3D printing which is a process that lets material to be produced in open space like pulling a line of carbon fibre reinforced plastic through the air and it staying in place.
As told by Boyd, an exceptional construction technique known as “Cellular Fabrication (C-FAB)” is used by Branch Technology which takes its clues from the cellular composition of natural structures like a bone or tree, where a complex external geometry holds in a strong or functional material. As he explained:
“C-FAB uses the 3D printed plastic as the cellular geometry and conventional construction materials as the internal strength, function, and finish of a wall assembly.”
In order to get an idea as to how the house will be built by making use of a 3D-printed matrix of carbon-reinforced ABS plastic which is capable of generating more challenging forms and traditional building materials such as foam insulation and concrete, the early design surfaces of the house will be rundown and adjusted in order to print the 3D cellular matrix as per a representative at WATG. With the aim of developing a singular solid structure, these portions will be assembled together. Later, to create a weather barrier and increase the structural qualities of the matrix, concrete and expanding spray foam will be applied to it. Further components such as glazing and interior finishes will be set up at the end.
According to the statement made by the WATG’s representative, the glass enclosure and interior finishes will be constructed conventionally as opposed to the primary vertical structure, roof, and large portions of the front elevation which will be freeform 3D-printed. The representative mentioned:
“Since the technology isn’t at a point where the entire house can be printed from a single machine, one of the biggest challenges will be successfully hybridizing the two systems of 3D printing and more conventional construction into a single house. This will be tested and resolved with the robotic systems and technology used.”
The acknowledgment of 3D printing is capable of extremely affecting the future relationship between architecture, construction and manufacturing. However, the representative of WATG thinks that a great deal of work has to be done before digital models could become a direct source for more intricate, final-built project. In the meantime, the ‘Curve Appeal’ will serve as a demo for 3D printed architecture. The definite cost of this construction, funded through Branch Technology’s supply chain partners, is uncertain up till now.
Check out the 3D printing of a Canal House in Amsterdam: