Jan 9, 2016 | By Benedict

On January 1, 2016, the Netherlands began its six-month Presidency of the Council of the European Union, taking over from Luxembourg. Ministerial meetings will be held at the National Maritime Museum in Amsterdam, where a partially 3D printed structure—the Europe Building—has been erected.

The Presidency of the Council of the European Union, responsible for arranging meetings and setting agendas within the EU, rotates among member states every six months. After holding the post for the last term, Luxembourg has now handed the baton to the Netherlands, whose government has created a unique 3D printed building in which meetings will be held.

To keep the EU on an even keel, the Netherlands has designated its historic National Maritime Museum and a nearby naval yard to function as the new headquarters of the presidency. Those locations are well suited to the task at hand, but the Dutch have pushed the boat out even further by building a brand new 20 x 35m, partially 3D printed structure on the site of the naval yard. The Europe Building, fully equipped for official ministry meetings and press conferences, will stand for the duration of the presidency, before being dismantled in July. Some 17,500 participants are expected to walk through its doors between now and then, by which time 135 meetings will have taken place.

The Europe Building is striking both in its appearance and its construction methods. With a keen eye for thematic consistency, Dutch temporary building specialist Neptunus was able to provide the foundations for a building which mimics the aesthetics of a ship’s sails. The canvas exterior of the building appears draped from its roof, giving the structure a distinctly nautical feel, perfectly fitting the bill for its surroundings. The structure also demonstrates a level of environmental consciousness, with solar panels installed to provide green energy and water taps fitted onsite to discourage the buying of water bottles.

As a country known for its forward-thinking views, it is perhaps no surprise that the Netherlands tasked local favorites DUS Architects to provide 3D printed parts for the exterior of the Europe Building. DUS, which has made waves over the last few years for its ambitious 3D printed canal house project, also in Amsterdam, used 3D printed bioplastic materials to create sections of the new building’s façade.

The 3D printed sections created by DUS take the form of blue, geometrically shaped benches, which fit snugly between the “sails” of the building and on which members of the public can sit and relax. "It is wonderful to see how passers-by sit in the wall, with the façade thus becoming a real public place to stay,” said Martijn van Wijk of DUS.

The color of the 3D printed benches matches that of the EU flag, whilst the 3D printed patterns, which build up from large to small and from round to square, represent the multiplicity and variety of EU member states. The 3D printed parts are noticeably large, but presented no problems for the huge Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) XXL 3D printer being used by DUS at its 3D printed canal house location. That 3D printer, which has been appropriately named “KamerMaker” (room maker), is housed within a shipping container and boasts a colossal 2 x 2 x 3.5m build area.

The 3D printed benches have been finished with a lightly colored concrete padding, to contrast with the surrounding blue plastic. When the sun goes down on the naval yard, a two-minute cycle of pulsating spotlights illuminates each 3D printed seating area from behind the giant canvas sails. DUS was also ready and willing to get on board with the green aspects of the building project, with the prototype 3D printed benches able to be fully recycled when the presidency comes to its end and the building is dismantled.

The construction of the Europe Building has been a collaborative project, requiring the services of the aforementioned Neptunus and DUS, as well as Actual, an Amsterdam-based start-up responsible for parametric development and 3D printing; TenTech, for its engineering expertise; Philips, for its lighting services; and Heijmans, an innovations specialist and special partner in the project, for construction and assembly.

The successful implementation of the 3D printed benches at the Europe Building is sure to be seen as a good omen for the 3D Print Canal House project, which is due to be completed within the next two years.

Images: DUS Architects



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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