Architects in Amsterdam have begun construction on what they're calling the first full-sized 3D-printed house. Using what's essentially a large-scale version of a desktop 3D printer, Dus Architects is building what will eventually be a 13-room Dutch canal house made of interlocking plastic parts. The project was announced earlier this year — part proof of concept, part art project. After about three weeks of work, The Guardian reports, one three-meter-high corner segment has been produced. The interior and facade are printed as part of the same brick, and spaces are left for wiring and pipes; for now, the walls are later filled with concrete for insulation and reinforcement. The entire process of printing and assembling the house is slated to take three years.
The 3D Print Canal House, as it's called, is conceived as an improvement to current architectural practice on several levels. Designers at Dus say that by printing series of blocks instead of building with conventional materials, they can eliminate waste and reduce transportation costs; the plastic itself can be made with recycled materials. Individual rooms and design elements could be remixed and reordered by non-architects, allowing people to design their own ideal home and then hire a printing contractor to build it. And the rooms themselves can "fairly easy be disconnected" to move the house. The pieces are made with an oversized printer called the KamerMaker (or "room builder"), designed specially for Dus. The site itself is open to tourists, who can visit on most weekdays; President Barack Obama paid a visit earlier this month.
Whether this will truly be the first 3D-printed house is debatable. Enrico Dini is known for building printers that can be used to create large sand structures, and in 2013, he announced that he had teamed up with Dutch architect Janjaap Ruijssenaars on a project called the "Landscape House," a Möbius band-like building with a single surface. Regardless, it's another step towards 3D printing becoming a method for creating not just prototypes but final pieces of design that offer a flexibility traditional manufacturing can't match.