A full-fledged family home straight from the 3D printer? What might have sounded like science fiction a couple of years ago has long since become reality. Inspired by pioneer projects in the US and China, Germany followed suit and now has its own prototype model – including smart technology made by Gira.
These days, the real estate market is changing and evolving at a rapid pace. Architects are constantly trying to find new ways of building and living – and thus make housing more affordable and, most of all, sustainable. With that vision in mind, a group of German architects set out on an unprecedented venture: they designed the country’s very first 3D-printed house in Beckum, complete with comfortable furnishing and smart technology. Their project, as showcased during a Gira live session on Instagram, has even earned the team a German Design Award.
The team behind this innovative project is called Mense-Korte ingenieure + architekten, a planning office located in the city of Beckum. Before turning their idea into an actual plan, they had to walk through all the necessary bureaucratic steps, of course. Luckily, local authorities (namely the construction ministry of the federal state North Rhine-Westphalia) saw great potential in the proposition of Mense-Korte. Thus, they granted the country’s first-ever building permit for a 3D-printed house. Once the paperwork was done, the architects got to work with a special concrete 3D printer that spans more than 12 metres in height. Their undertaking was ambitious, to say the least. After all, the finished home should not only be spacious, but also high-tech and energy-efficient.
Eventually, the team of Mense-Korte managed to construct a two-storey building with 160 square metres of living space. The first level has an open floor plan including a living room, dining area, and a cosy fireplace in the middle. The second floor consists of three separate bedrooms (which might also be used as working space, for example). In addition, there are three bathrooms to accommodate several family members and guests. Since the whole building was made by a 3D printer, it took less than a year to complete the construction.
Almost every permanent installation came out of the concrete printer. Round shapes require less effort than square objects, hence the eye-catching geometric design. To ensure that everything would fit seamlessly, the architects equipped the interior with customised furniture. They decided to use recyclable materials only – even if that meant compromising on thermal conductivity. In the end, the 3D-printed house still turned out to comply with high standards of energy efficiency (as specified by the German credit institution KfW). An integrated ventilation system provides fresh, clean air in each room. Behind the ceiling, the architects placed heating mats that are warmed up or cooled down by air-heating pumps to regulate indoor temperatures. The 3D-printed home also has its own hot water storage. All in all, the construction was built in the most sustainable way possible – from the choice of materials to the use of energy.
Needless to say, power supply presented another major challenge. How can cables and pipes be installed within a concrete structure, you might ask yourself? Mense-Korte had a simple solution to that problem: monocoque construction. They printed out hollow walls in which they would lay the cable network later on. With the framework completed, it was time for the technical fine tuning: Tapmeier, a German specialist for electronic engineering, installed various smart devices at the 3D-printed house. The result: a home with future-proof technology for long-lasting living comfort.
Gira G1 serves as the central control unit for automated lighting, blinds, or heating.
The Gira pushbutton sensor 4 allows for an intuitive operation of different functions within the smart KNX system.
Smart switches from the Gira E3 design line were chosen to complement the sleek and modern interior. Thanks to their rounded shape, they blend in harmoniously with the curved and arched lines throughout the building.
Of course, the first question on your mind will probably be: what does a 3D-printed house cost? The answer is not as simple as you might think. The prototype model in Beckum, Germany amounts to a value of about 450,000 €. However, this includes a rather luxurious furnishing and high-end smart devices. One must also take into consideration that architects have only just started to develop housing based on 3D printing. Right now, the number of printers suitable for huge projects is still limited. But as technology progresses, 3D-printed houses will become increasingly easy to build – and thus increasingly affordable. The team of Mense-Korte have high hopes for the future: they plan to make individually designed, sustainable 3D homes accessible for the average customer in five years’ time.