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The first house of 3D-printed concrete of Project Milestone

Holland’s 3D-printed concrete house welcomes first occupants

Image credit: Bart van Overbeeke

The inaugural tenant of the first Dutch 3D-printed concrete home received their house keys today.

The house, situated in the Eindhoven neighborhood of Bosrijk, is the first of five within ‘Project Milestone’ and fully complies with all of the strict building requirements of The Netherlands. The project partners have realised a home with an original design thanks to extensive R&D that enlarged the freedom of form in concrete printing. Project Milestone is a joint construction and innovation project of Eindhoven University of Technology, Van Wijnen, Saint-Gobain Weber Beamix, Vesteda, the Municipality of Eindhoven and Witteveen+Bos.

The house is a detached single-storey home with 94 square metres of net floor area, a spacious living room, and two bedrooms. The home is shaped like a large boulder, which fits in well with the natural location and demonstrates the freedom of form offered by 3D concrete printing. With extra-thick insulation and a connection to the heat grid, the home is comfortable and energy efficient, with an energy performance coefficient of 0.25.

3D-printed concrete house and its first tenants, Elize Lutz and Harrie Dekkers - inline 2

Image credit: Bart van Overbeeke

The house consists of 24 printed concrete elements which were printed at the a plant in Eindhoven. The elements were transported by truck to the building site and placed on a foundation. The house was then provided with a roof and frames and the finishing touches applied.

The unusual, organic shape of the house was made possible by recent advances in 3D concrete printing, allowing the design to include inclining walls. With this knowledge, future construction projects could take on a variety of forms, going beyond standard rectangular houses.

In principle, printed homes can be built a lot faster with more flexibility and personalised designs. Additionally, this is more sustainable, as less concrete is wasted. The ambition of the Project Milestone partners is for 3D concrete printing to eventually become a sustainable construction method that contributes to solving the housing shortage.

3D-printed concrete house and its first tenants, Elize Lutz and Harrie Dekkers - inline 3

Image credit: Bart van Overbeeke

The five houses of Project Milestone are being built one after the other so that each new round of construction can maximise learning opportunities from the previous. Soon, the project partners will begin work on the design of the next homes, which will have multiple floors and therefore require further development of the technique.

The project involved a ‘Triple Helix’ collaboration between the government, knowledge institutions and industry. The municipality was a co-initiator, booster of innovation and facilitator of the project. TU/e conducted research and developed models to enable 3D concrete printing, while Saint-Gobain Weber Beamix developed the special types of concrete mortar needed for 3D printing: the two worked together to develop the printing technology. Witteveen+Bos worked on the building engineering and structural aspects. Construction company Van Wijnen led the project and built the house. The house is now owned by residential real estate investor Vesteda, which rents it out to private individuals.

Yasin Torunoglu, alderman for housing and spatial development, Municipality of Eindhoven, said: “Innovation is an important pillar in construction. In addition to affordable homes, the market increasingly demands innovative housing concepts. With the 3D-printed home, we’re now setting the tone for the future: the rapid realisation of affordable homes with control over the shape of your own house. Innovation and discovery with an eye for design is in Eindhoven’s DNA. We don’t do it alone here but together. I’m proud that this promising innovation has a place in our city and, more importantly, that it provides people with an affordable home.”

3D-printed concrete house and its first tenants, Elize Lutz and Harrie Dekkers - inline 1

Image credit: Bart van Overbeeke

Bas Huysmans, CEO, Saint Gobain Weber Benelux, said: “With the printing insulated and self-supporting wall elements curved in three planes, we’ve taken important steps in this project in the further development of 3D concrete printing in construction. Together with all partners, we’ve completed a challenging process and realised a very special home. I think that we’ll soon be able to proudly add the Milestone houses to the list of iconic projects in Eindhoven.”

Pieter Knauff, chief investment officer, Vesteda, said: “3D concrete printing’s freedom of form creates an enormous new scope of possibilities in the design and experience of a home. At the same time, this new technique contributes to the required sustainability in the construction industry, the acceleration of building production and the control of construction costs, which is much needed in order to continue building affordable homes".

As a core product of the modern construction industry, concrete poses a significant global challenge in terms of making it a more sustainable material. Globally, around three tonnes of concrete is used per person annually, a quantity that takes a dramatic toll on the environment.

Earlier this month, researchers produced a greener form of concrete that swaps out sand for a common clay material that can easily be obtained as a waste from excavation works.

In Japan, a procedure for recycling concrete has been developed which combines the building material with discarded wood to form a new material with a bending strength superior to that of the original concrete.

Researchers from the University of Tokyo have also developed a new method of producing concrete without cement. Their technique offers a means for the construction industry to reduce its carbon emissions, as well as offering potential for building on the Moon and Mars.

3D-printing concrete houses - with due environmental consideration given - could also prove invaluable to developing countries, as it allows the rapid building of relatively affordable homes. In 2018, Icon, a Texas-based company, unveiled its own 3D-printed concrete house which it proposed to ship to El Salvador, so that people living in slums there could have a better quality of life. The production version of Icon's 3D printer was anticipated to have the ability to print a single-storey, 55-75 square metre home in under 24 hours for less than $4,000.

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