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The race is on to create the world’s first 3D printed house

Fix It Renovations 3d home design race

Photo: DAS Design

Need a new house? A new bathroom? Just print one out. That’s the potential of an amazing new technology that could revolutionise building. And not just building – well, everything really. We look at the marvel that is 3D printing and explore the possible implications for home renovators.

What is 3D printing? There’s actually nothing new about it. If you’ve got an inkjet printer, the type with the print head mounted on a rail, you already own an early 2D prototype. The print head whizzes from side to side on the rail, squirting out ink until your photo or document appears as if by magic in your out tray. 3D printers work the same way, whizzing from side to side depositing stuff on other stuff, but instead of depositing ink on paper, the 3D printer squirts out thicker liquid. A bit like toothpaste coming out of the tube, except that you can have as much or as little toothpaste as you like, and it sets into a solid pretty much as soon as it comes out of the tube.

 Fix It Renovations 3d home design race

The race is on: Dutch studio Universe Architecture unveiled designs for the “Landscape House”,
this looping two-storey house that resembles a Möbius strip and will be printed on site, in instant-set concrete.
Photo: Universe Architecture

Now imagine what you could do if you squeezed out a ring of instant-set toothpaste, then layered another ring right on top of it, then another, then another. Pretty soon you could create a vase or pot. Or anything at all, especially if the movements of your toothpaste tube were very precisely controlled by a computer.

 Fix It Renovations 3d home design race
Not to be outdone, UK architects Softkill Design announced plans for Protohouse 2.0,
a single-storey dwelling with a fibrous structure resembling bone growth which will be printed out of plastic in a factory,
and then snapped together in sections on site. Photo: Softkill Design

We bet nobody’s compared 3D printing to toothpaste before, but that’s the first thing that popped into our head when we watched a 3D printing demonstration recently on a video by Professor  Behrokh Khoshnevis of the University of Southern California, who made the preposterous claim that one day it may be possible to “print out” a whole house in just twenty hours.

 Fix It Renovations 3d home design race
Last but not least in the race, another Dutch design house, DUS Architects,
are currently attempting to build the “Canal House” in Amsterdam.

The claim was so preposterous that it might just come true, especially if four teams of designers and scientists have their way. They’re involved, quite independently of each other, in a race – a race to produce the world’s first 3D printed house. We’ve let the photos and captions interspersed through this article tell the story.

There’s no doubt in our mind that if 3D printing can be used to produce a liveable house, then it can also be used to create a bathroom, a kitchen or any other room or house extension. So is 3D printing the future of home renovation? And if so, will today’s specialist renovators such as Fix It Renovations still have a role to play in the process?

We think so. With 3D printing, there is still a requirement for design skills and a thorough knowledge of structural and construction dynamics. We look forward to the opportunity to use new technology to produce even more innovative and interesting renovation solutions for our clients.


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