The city of Eindhovenin the Netherlands will soon be home to what is being called the world’s first commercial 3D-printed housing project, with five homes to be built, rented out and occupied “for at least several decades”.

Called Project Milestone, the project is a partnership between the Eindhoven University of Technology, the city of Eindhoven, real estate manager Vesteda, materials company Saint Gobain-Weber Beamix and engineering firm Witteveen+Bos.

The homes will be code compliant, with the intention for Vesteda to buy and then lease them out.

“The concrete dwellings will be subject to all the regular building regulations and will meet the demands of current-day occupants concerning comfort, layout, quality and pricing,” an Eindhoven University of Technology statement said.

The first house – a single-storey development – is expected to be ready for occupation by mid-2019. Initially prefabricated concrete elements will be printed off-site, however the goal is to have at least the last house printed entirelyon location.The homes are being built successively, so that any learnings or new innovations can the applied to the next project.

Aside from being a milestone for 3D-printed construction, the homes will also resemble stones, or, as architect Houben & Van Mierlosays, “sculptures in a sculpture garden”. 

Eindhoven University built environment professor Theo Salet said 3D-printing technology allowed for almost any shape to be built. 

“With this technology, we can do things we couldn’t do before,” Professor Salet said.

“In design, for instance, we can create shapes that normally can hardly be made, and that, if they are made, are only produced in large quantities. But here we can do unique industrial custom-made work.”

Sustainability is a big factor too.

“We only put concrete down… in places where we need it. We use a lot less material, so we’re much more sustainable,” Professor Salet said.

On top of this the homes will be provided without gas connection – a rarity in The Netherlands – and energy efficiency, acoustics, comfort and light are being prioritised.

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  1. This is yet another example of a great house-building technology being used overseas — I’m excited to see it start being used in Australia. The biggest challenges I see for this are firstly regulatory — the energy rating systems are notoriously slow to adapt to new building materials technology, and it could be years after the first prototype reaches our shores before it can be approved for FirstRate or similar software. Secoondly, the scalability is yet to be discussed — it seems 3D-printed concrete systems work well for very small 40-60sqm homes, but what about the 500-2,000sqm monsters that some clients demand here?
    Third, the sustainability of concrete is not mentioned, though there are many options now such as flyash content, but what actually works with these printing systems? Lastly, how about lining and cladding — these test houses never discuss those aspects, when the prevailing expectation is for a smooth finish rather than the ribbed texture which would be a hard sell to most homebuyers. I look forward to more developments on this front.