Mar 1, 2019 | By Thomas

DFAB HOUSE has officially opened on the NEST building of Empa and Eawag in Dübendorf in Switzerland. The project, developed by ETH Zurich researchers in collaboration with more than 30 industrial partners, marks the world's first inhabited "house" that was not only digitally planned, but also built largely digitally with the help of robots and 3D printers.

The three-story 200m2 "house" is located on the uppermost of three platforms at NEST. Its living room features a delicate concrete ceiling, cast in 3D printed formwork, and a curved concrete wall created by a construction robot. Upon saying a specific command, the blinds open as if by magic and the kettle prepares water for tea. What sounds like a science fiction film is now reality in Dübendorf.

On this modular building, researchers can test new construction and energy technologies under real-life conditions. NEST consists of a central building core, to which various building modules – so-called units – can dock. The aim of digital technologies is not only to make planning and construction more efficient, but also more sustainable. The technologies also open up new design possibilities. For instance, the two upper residential floors are characterized by wooden frames, which were fabricated with the help of two construction robots and arranged in complex geometries.

The first residents, academic guests from Empa and Eawag, will move into DFAB HOUSE in around two months' time. A consortium of companies led by digitalSTROM has installed the first smart home solutions in DFAB HOUSE. These include intelligent, multi-stage burglar protection, automated glare and shading options, and the latest generation of networked, intelligent household appliances.

DFAB HOUSE is also smart in terms of energy management: Photovoltaic modules on the roof supply on average one and a half times as much electricity as the unit itself will consume. Two start-up ideas, accompanied by researchers from Empa and Eawag, are helping to save additional energy: On the one hand, heat from waste water, which would otherwise be lost, is recovered directly in the shower trays via heat exchangers, and on the other hand hot water flows from the pipes back into the boiler when not in use instead of cooling in the water pipes. This method not only saves energy and water, but also reduces the risk of bacteria growing in the pipes.

All images credit: Roman Keller

"In implementing a construction project like DFAB HOUSE, traditional construction methods meet new concepts of the digital world. The path from the digital drawing board to an actual building has challenged both scientists and experts from industry. Through a constructive dialog, something truly visionary can now be put into practice; hopefully it will soon be used broadly in the construction industry," says Empa CEO Gian-Luca Bona.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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