Insights from industry

3D Printing in Architecture and Construction

Janjaap Ruijssenaars, Architect and Owner of Universe Architecture talks to AZoBuild about 3D printing in Architecture and Construction.

You are planning on constructing a Mobius strip-shaped house using the world’s largest 3D printer. Can you explain the inspiration behind this design idea?

We wondered if it was possible to celebrate the landscape when building. The question we asked was: Can building be like landscape? Landscape, as we analyzed it, is continuous.

The earth is round and you cannot say where it starts or ends. So we tried to design a shape that doesn´t have a beginning or an ending.

Exactly how are you planning on constructing this strip-shaped house?

We will use 3D printing techniques and more traditional techniques for the facades.

What technology are you planning on using to help construct this house?

The 3D printing technique is developed by D-Shape from Italy. They use grinded rock or sand and add a binder to it to build up the wanted shape layer by layer. One can call it artificial rock.

What design and development stages will be involved in this project?

Many steps were taken to come from the essential question to the envisioned outcome. First we folded paper to suggest an endless floor.

Then we made a model with lead to give the surface thickness and suggest space. Then we printed a model in 3D with potato flower to avoid having a beginning or ending in production.

Are there any major design and development challenges that you will have to face with this project?

With the team formed and the technical feasibility explored, we now use the publicity for finding the right client, function and location to build the structure.

What material will you use to help construct this house and how does this material compare to what would normally be used to construct a house via traditional methods?

We use ground that one can find in situ where one builds the structure. For the facades steel and glass is used in a traditional way.

How does this novel method of constructing a house compare to standard construction techniques?

The advantage to this is that one can print complex forms directly without making moulds. Another advantage is that one can use the ground from where one wants to build.

How sturdy and durable will this landscape house be in comparison to a house built with regular methods and materials and what features give this house its sturdiness?

Comparable to traditional techniques, the same forces like gravity and weather have to be dealt with using these new techniques.

You have seen a great opportunity here to build houses for the poor. How do you plan on facing this challenge and will this be part of future developments with your current project?

This is not our main focus. We were approached by a party that requested more information on printing houses for the poor. Of course we looked into it, but at this stage it is not competitive to traditional techniques for constructing smaller simple units.

How do you see this novel design and development idea in the construction industry progressing over the next decade?

Printers might get faster and used materials might be expanded. Hopefully architects will be inspired to come up with new ideas.

Where can we find further information on your work?

Readers can find further information on the Universe Architecture website.

Janjaap RuijssenaarsAbout Janjaap Ruijssenaars

Janjaap Ruijssenaars studied a Master of Science, Architecture at the Technical University Delft, Netherlands and then pursued his career in architecture by continuing further studying at the Universidad Polytechnica Barcelona, Spain followed by his study at the Western State College of Colorado, USA.

Following his academic career, in 1997 Janjaap pursued a role as an Architect at the Busquets I Studio in Barcelona, which was followed by his interest in Urban Planning between 2003 and 2004. Janjaap has since focussed his career on teaching at the Amsterdam Academy of Architecture and the BNA Royal Institute of Dutch Architects and to his present position as founder of Universe Architecture.


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