Plans for Europe’s first 3D printed concrete house unveiled by Arup and CLS Architects

Arup and CLS Architects have shared plans to showcase Europe’s first 3D printed one-bedroom house at Milan’s design festival, Salone del Mobile next month. 3D Housing 05 has been designed to be disassembled and relocated. The team aims to demonstrate that 3D printing concrete technology is now advanced enough to produce flexible and sustainable buildings, quickly and affordably.

The prototype house is currently being printed on site, in Milan’s central square, Piazza Cesare Beccaria, home to the Cathedral. The one-storey home with a living area, bedroom, kitchen and bathroom covers an area of 100 square meters.

A robot from Cybe Construction is being used to print the walls; the roof, windows, doors and fit out will be completed as soon as the concrete has been fully consolidated. Italcementi, one of the world’s largest cement suppliers, is providing the base mix for the concrete used during the printing operations.

Arup, working with CLS Architects on the design, have provided structural engineering and materials consulting services. The 3D house aims to move away from the “make, use, dispose” model used by the construction industry which accounts for 60 per cent of all raw materials consumed in the UK alone. Arup, a knowledge partner of the Ellen McArthur Foundation, has used lessons from its innovative Circular Building, constructed out of fully re-usable components. The house will be disassembled after Salone del Mobile and reassembled in a new location.

The advantages offered by 3D printed buildings include:

  • Sustainability: they offer a sustainable alternative to the traditional construction process, reducing material waste and allowing recycled concrete to be used. 3D printed buildings can be designed to ensure that the components can be reused in the future, according to the principles of the Circular Economy.
  • Flexibility: they also offer greater flexibility in the building shape, allowing engineers and architects to generate more complex structures, such as double curved walls, at lower cost. In addition the process allows for on-site construction with few limitations regarding site location.
  • Affordability: 3D printing is less expensive than traditional construction due to the more efficient use of materials and to a more structured and faster building process.
  • Accuracy: 3D printing offers a direct transfer of information from the 3D design model into construction operations, therefore it drastically reduces building inconsistencies and potential mistakes.

Guglielmo Carra, Europe Materials Consulting Lead at Arup:

“The construction industry is one of the world’s biggest users of resources and emitters of CO2. We want to bring a paradigm shift in the way the construction industry operates and believe that 3D printing technology is critical to making buildings more sustainable and efficient. It creates less waste during construction and materials can be repurposed and reused at the end of their life.”

Luca Stabile, Italy Building Practice Leader at Arup:

“We believe 3D printing will contribute to breaking the conventional barriers in engineering and architecture. The use of new technologies alongside a new digital approach to the built environment will be instrumental to creating even more complex multi-storey 3D printed buildings.”