Apr 17, 2017 | By Benedict

Malaysian architecture student Haseef Rafiei has come up with a radical idea for futuristic housing: a “vending machine” skyscraper that 3D prints its own dwellings. Rafiei’s Pod Skyscraper design received an honorable mention at the 2017 eVolo Skyscraper Competition.

Vending machines are a godsend when you’re dying for a drink at the train station or having a 3PM sugar crash at work. But could you imagine buying your next home from a vending machine?

According to young architect Haseef Rafiei, a future breed of skyscraper could function just like a vending machine, 3D printing homes from a giant 3D printer on its top floor and lowering them into place using a system of cranes.

This radical housing concept, which Rafiei has called the “Pod Skyscraper,” might sound like a futuristic fantasy, but it’s actually heavily influenced by a 1972 architectural masterpiece.

Haseef Rafiei's 3D printing Pod Skyscraper concept

The Nakagin Capsule Tower, a mixed-use residential and office building located in Tokyo, was designed by architect Kisho Kurokawa, and contains 140 modular “capsules” bolted on to one of two main “shafts” that form the center of the building.

The building has something of a cult status in the Japanese capital, but has been under threat of demolition for several years.

Tokyo's Nakagin Capsule Tower (Image: Jordy Meow)

Like Kurokawa’s Capsule Tower, the Pod Skyscraper puts a focus on modularity and interchangeability: Rafiei says that several “pods,” each containing basic living amenities, could be 3D printed and joined together to form larger dwellings or even offices and commercial buildings. The 1972 Capsule Tower operates on a similar principle: side-by-side capsules can be joined to form a larger space, giving occupiers flexibility when renting or buying a space.

But while the modularity of the Pod Skyscraper follows an architectural heritage, its method of self-construction does not: Rafiei says that each “pod” of the building could be manufactured on site by a giant construction 3D printer, before being lowered into position using cranes.

That, of course, would require a level of additive manufacturing technology far more advanced than what we see today. Could it work? We’re doubtful, but 3D printed housing and construction is growing at a surprisingly fast rate.

Haseef Rafiei's 3D printing Pod Skyscraper design

According to Rafiei, his high-concept 3D printable skyscraper would also be part of a “closed loop” system, in which disused or faulty pods could be dismantled, repaired, and recycled. Their components could then be fed back into the 3D printer to be made into new pods.

The Pod Skyscraper received an honorable mention at the 2017 eVolo Skyscraper Competition two weeks ago, proving that the design isn’t quite as crazy as it sounds. Rafiei is currently completing his RIBA Part II at the Manchester School of Architecture.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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