In Teuge, in the Dutch province of Gelderland, construction of Europe’s first 3D-printed commercial building is set to start shortly. The commissioning parties received the environmental permit last week. De Vergaderfabriek is to be a round building with an organic shape that is perfectly suited to being created by a 3D printer.
For the design, architect Pim van Wylick established a link with Teuge aerodrome, which lies just a stone's throw away from De Vergaderfabriek. The building to be printed is inspired by the turbine blades of an aeroplane engine, with many blades overlapping each other as it were.
‘This makes the building more or less an open structure, depending on the angle you look at it,’ says Arvid Prigge of commissioning party De Vergaderfabriek. ‘Users will enjoy not only an open building but also plenty of privacy.’
The builders will be preparing the site for construction this week. ‘We’re having to move hedgerows, for instance, to make room for the building.’ A 3D-printing system will shortly be installed by CyBe to print the walls of the building in-situ using layers of concrete.
Such a 3D-printer from CyBe roughly consists of a sturdy robot arm featuring an injection nozzle that ejects liquid concrete, something like how toothpaste comes out of the tube. The robot arm follows a certain contour and once that layer is finished, starts the next layer up. This creates a three-dimensional concrete object, layer by layer, which only has to cure.
That sounds fairly easy, but the major complication relates to the properties of the concrete. This has to be strong enough in its wet state to bear multiple layers. If it's too thin, it will collapse under the weight of the upper layers as they are formed. At the same time it needs to be wet enough that the layers bond properly with each other. CyBe is one of the few companies to have mastered this and is now carrying out concrete printing projects across the world.
TEN DAYS OR SO
Back to Teuge. Prigge from De Vergaderfabriek expects construction to go quickly. ‘Once printing has started, it takes just ten days or so. But that doesn’t include the finishing work... Let's just say we hope that the building will be ready in December.’ Although pioneering 3D-printing in the construction industry continues, a building of this scale and with such an organic shape has not yet been 3D-printed anywhere.
By the way, not all parts of this building come from a printer. ‘Glass windows are of course not easily printable,’ says Prigge with a laugh. ‘And the roof is zinc, although it does run over in the form of the walls. Pipes and cables are another issue – we'll be laying those as far as possible in the floor.’
De Vergaderfabriek will be built on the site of Centre4Moods and Hotel de Slaapfabriek, a B&B. The team includes consultancy Revelating, The Form Foundation, engineering consultancy Witteveen+Bos, CyBe, Elma Media and Lexence Lawyers.
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Images: Pim van Wylick
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