A 3d-printed canal house: It might sound like science fiction, but in the meantime, the walls are growing line by line. Anyone who takes the ferry to Amsterdam-Noord can see it with their own two eyes.
Just across the water behind eye and the Tolhuistuin stands a white construction trailer where all the action happens. As soon as you enter you hear the 3d printer going back and forth – a scale model of its gigantic brother in the garden, the ‘Kamermaker’ (room maker). It is specially designed to take 3d printing to a higher, or better said, bigger level. There are no small objects, instruments or prostheses being printed here, but rather an entire house. The architects at dus were convinced that it was possible, and put their ideas into action. We’re standing on the brink of a new Golden Age, they say in their brochure. They are actually working on version 2.0 of the canal ring.
The impact on the construction process is immense. The portable printer does all the work on site, saving considerable man hours as well as transport time. Construction waste is no longer an issue, because you only print exactly what you need. “We can actually use waste to make it,” says exhibition manager Tosja Backer. “The process is cheaper and more sustainable, and the house is finished more quickly. The nice thing about 3d printing is that you can add lots of detail without incurring additional costs – the ornamentation of years gone by is coming back in a whole new way.”
But they are not there just yet. “It is completely reinventing the wheel,” says Backer, “learning by doing.” And it is all happening out in the open. The workshop is open to everyone – ‘open source design’ as it is called. Cross-sector collaboration also plays a role. Heijmans is contributing their ideas to the construction, and chemical company Henkel is providing the (bio)plastics that it is made from. The world’s first 3d-printed canal house should be finished in about three years. “That doesn’t mean that we’ll stop with our research,” says Backer. “We will certainly continue to explore the possibilities of 3d.”¶