Aug 30, 2016 | By Nick

Photograph by Ossip van Duivenbode

A Dutch firm of architects has 3D printed an extraordinary cabin in Amsterdam, complete with a bathtub, and is now taking guests for overnight stays. The bathtub is outside, though, which could present a problem for shy types.

DUS Architects wanted to demonstrate how we can create shelters for people in the immediate wake of a disaster and create temporary housing solutions for those that really need a place to stay.

Photograph by Sophia van den Hoek

The company 3D printed the cabin on in a disused industrial area in Amsterdam, so it’s peaceful. It measures 8 m2 and with a volume of 25 m3, so it’s compact and easily printed. The walls have an unusual geometric wall construction with an internal honeycomb construction that provides structural integrity without having to create a frame. That means that with a 3D printer in place these shelters could be quick to build.

"3D printing techniques can be used particularly well for small temporary dwellings or in disaster areas," said the team. "After use, the bio print material can be shredded entirely and re-printed into new designs."

The whole structure is built from bioplastic, too, which means it’s easy to recycle. The plastic can be turned into a new 3D printing filament or simply destroyed in situ, so this is a potentially invaluable solution when disaster strikes in remote areas. A serious clean-up operation would present major logistical issues on their own in some areas of the world.

It's black thanks to the Linseed Oil-based bioplastic that the architect had a hand in developing. It is working with manufacturing concern Henkel to perfect the plastic. It has to be strong, biodegradable and also easy to 3D print. This is a complex set of criteria and the testing phase is far from over.

Photograph by Sophia van den Hoek

The cabin is part of a larger discussion on sustainable, affordable housing in urban centers and DUS has an ongoing project called 3D Print Living It. Many cities around the world are facing a housing shortage and short-term solutions like this could be an elegant way of dealing with the problem. That could give city planners time to figure out how to accommodate an ever increasing population.

The architect is also looking into 3D printing canal houses and this smaller cabin is a test bed for some of the techniques that the company hopes will become a permanent fixture in the construction industry around the world in the years to come.

They include those unusual walls with a honeycomb plastic structure that saves weight and materials, without sacrificing strength.

DUS has thrown its weight behind the KamerMaker, a 3.5m tall 3D printer inside a shipping container that could comfortably make the parts for the cabin. It is a different approach to other construction companies that have opted for a print head on top of a robotic arm or even an army of smaller robots that cling to the structure while they create it.

It is inevitably limited, but the 3D printer’s lack of mobility also means it has a solid print bed and DUS believes the stability it offers means they can produce higher quality work. The cost attached is that the parts must then be fastened together to form a building.

Once the cabin is in place, it is secured with concrete that fills a 3D printed grid. This provides stability, a solid base to support the walls and a durable floor that can survive extended use. It even forms a path and frontage, with the Amsterdam cabin featuring a garden, although the disaster relief shelters probably won’t require this luxury touch.

DUS Architects is at the vanguard of the 3D printed construction scene in Amsterdam, which is something of a hub of the industry. Earlier in the year, DUS Architects created a sculptured frontage for Holland’s EU building with fabric and bioplastic to showcase its XXL 3D print expertise. Universe Architecture also revealed a scale model of a 3D printed Mobius house, with no beginning or end, in June.

The canal house will take three years and is set to showcase the potential for 3D printing as a central part of Amsterdam’s city planning process in the years ahead. Until then, you can book an overnight stay in the cabin if you’ve got a burning desire to see just what 3D printing can do right now. And if you don’t mind taking a bath outside.

Photograph by Sophia van den Hoek




Posted in 3D Printing Application



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