From above, the newest house in the Russian town of Stupino resembles the symbol often used on weather maps to denote the presence of a hurricane. It’s a fitting shape, as the house was constructed at hurricane speed. The product of a collaboration between Apis Cor and property development company PIK, the 38-square-meter 3D printed house took 24 hours to construct onsite using Apis Cor’s giant mobile 3D printer.
Once a laughable idea, 3D printed houses are lately being taken much more seriously by the public, as 3D printing and construction companies continue to prove that it’s a thing that can actually be done – and done well. 3D printed homes and other buildings have been appearing especially prominently in China, while Dubai looks to outdo everyone else with the 3D printing of houses before long. It’s the first time a project like this has been seen in Russia, however, and the curved, single-story house in Stupino shows off all of the benefits of 3D printing in one stylish package.
The most obvious benefit of 3D printed buildings is the speed; no matter how much of a 3D industry veteran you are, you can’t help being awed at a full-sized house being constructed in a single day. Then there’s the design freedom; as Apis Cor says, the only restrictions on 3D printed building designs are the laws of physics, and the Stupino house’s swirling shape shows off the kind of creativity that architects are now able to exercise.
One challenge that the construction team faced was temperature, as the project was carried out during the coldest time of the year. The concrete mix used to print the building is only functional at temperatures of 5ºC (41°F) or higher, but the builders circumvented the issue by erecting a protective tent around the construction site.
What sets Apis Cor’s technology apart from that of many other 3D printed construction companies is its ability to print both interior and exterior structures, as opposed to just the foundation. The company’s cranelike printer has the flexibility to move easily around the building area, with an extruder that rotates in two planes for added speed and versatility. The entire automated printing process requires very little human intervention – which means very little chance of human error, as Apis Cor points out.
Although the printing itself may have required few human hands, the full project was carried out by a large team of partners supporting Apis Cor and PIK, including:
- Samsung Electronics, which supplied the high-tech appliances for the home’s interior. Further accenting 3D printing’s capability to print in any shape, a curved Samsung TV was incorporated directly into the wall, perfectly matching the curve of the house itself. Samsung also supplied the refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, microwave, and a ridiculously high-tech washing machine that can be operated remotely via smartphone.
- TechnoNICOL Corporation, a building materials manufacturer that provided two types of insulation: a liquid polyurethane composition for one part of the house and a solid material for the other, both of which fill gaps completely to prevent drafts
- BITEX Reibeputz, which supplied paint and decorative plaster
- Fabrika Okon, which developed fancy, high-tech windows with double glazing and built-in climate control
The roof of the house was designed to be perfectly flat, with a covering made from TechnoNICOL’s LOGICROOF polymer membranes, which are welded together with hot air at high speeds. Solid plates were applied for insulation atop the polymer surface, with the entire roof ending up lighter and thinner than most roofs while still providing adequate protection – more than adequate, actually. The flat design of the roof is capable of withstanding tremendous amounts of snow, while costing about the same as traditional peaked roofs.
The entire house is a display of technological wonders, while still remaining as “cozy and comfortable” as any other house, according to Apis Cor. The total construction cost of the house came to $10,134, which breaks down to about $275 per square meter. A traditionally square-shaped house with less fancy materials and appliances, says Apis Cor, would have cost about $223 per square meter.
You can see some of the building process below:
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[All photos: Apis Cor]