Chinese Company Creates 3D Printed Buildings

3D printed buildingA collection of 10 small buildings were recently constructed in the suburban Qingpu District of Shanghai using additive manufacturing, more commonly known as 3D printing, rather than traditional building methods. The 10 structures are intended to be used as office spaces. They were the first 3D printed buildings constructed in China.

A 3D printer created successive 2-centimeter thick layers of material to construct the buildings in a single day. The technology uses “ink” that consists of a combination of sand, concrete, and glass fiber. The team bought parts of the 3D printer abroad and constructed the machine in a factory in Suzhou. The printer measures 22 feet tall, 33 feet wide, and 105 feet long.

The materials used to print the buildings were originally industrial construction waste. The materials are lighter than those commonly used in construction projects, but they are five times as hard. The layers are firmly connected to prevent them from separating, deforming, or collapsing.

The walls are hollow, and the ones with beam columns are 3D printed with steel bars inside. Concrete can then be poured directly into the walls. This process dramatically reduces the amount of construction material needed.

The buildings can be 3D printed on-site, or the walls can be printed at a factory and transported to the construction site. Cranes can be used to stack the pieces to assemble the buildings.

Design software AutoCAD Architecture was used to plan the buildings. The software took into account the need for plumbing, electrical systems, insulation, and windows that were to be added after the structures were built.

Ma Yihe, CEO of Shanghai Yingchuang Design & Engineering Co., which was behind the project, wants to create more centers to recycle construction waste material in China. He is currently applying for a patent.

The technology needs to undergo more testing to evaluate its strength and performance before it can be used on a wider scale. For now, it will be used to build temporary structures.

Portable, Solar-Powered Shelters Offer Comfort to Refugees

refugee sheltersJordanian-Canadian architect Abeer Seikaly has created portable, solar-powered shelters for refugees based on traditional Bedouin design principles. The portable shelters are constructed with a collapsible woven structural fabric and contain water and solar energy installations to provide hygiene and electricity to people who have been forced to leave their homes due to political conflict or natural disasters.

The temporary shelters have a sturdy dome-like shape and a tessellating pattern on the outside that is caused by the tent’s unique fabric. This structure makes it possible to collapse the tent vertically, making it easy to transport and set up. The shapes on the exterior can be opened to function as windows and provide ventilation.

The exterior fabric of the temporary structures can harvest solar radiation and convert it into electricity, which can be used for lighting, heating, and cooling. The shelters also include a thermosiphoning and drainage system that draws water into spherical storage tanks at the top of the temporary shelters. The location of the tanks allows the shelters’ occupants to shower.

Seikaly believes the portable structures can help refugees rebuild their lives after being displaced from their homes. She is concerned that the refugee crisis may worsen in the future due to political conflicts and climate change. She believes her temporary structures can provide the familiar comforts of a home in a new location and provide families with privacy, while at the same time helping people to connect with each other.

OPEN Architecture Creates Prototype for Temporary Sales Pavilion

sales pavilionIn China, before housing projects are sold, architects often construct a sales pavilion, which generally bears little or no resemblance to the housing being sold. This practice has offered architects the freedom in terms of design and budget that they do not have with other types of buildings. The temporary pavilions are often torn down after the buildings are sold, although they are sometimes converted for other uses.

OPEN Architecture designers viewed this practice as a waste of effort and resources. In response, they designed the Xihuafu Sales Pavilion, a prototype of a temporary sales pavilion for development company VANKE Group.

OPEN designers worked in conjunction with engineers from the China Academy of Building Research to create a prototype of a temporary building that can be constructed quickly, adapted to various programs and sites, disassembled, and reassembled at another location. The reusable building design is intended to test the potential of sustainability in terms of physical form and life cycle.

The temporary building prototype is inspired by the ancient Chinese practice of constructing wooden structures that can be disassembled and reassembled at another site. The steel structural skeleton and steel and concrete composite floor panels are pre-fabricated and bolted together at the construction site. The solid aluminum and glass panels of the building envelope can be freely arranged in a variety of configurations depending on program requirements.

The exterior of the pavilion resembles a horizontal silver tube floating above a reflecting pond, reminiscent of 1960s experimental design capsules. Visitors walk over a bridge above the pond and enter the pavilion from one end of the tube. They proceed through five boxes to exit through the other end. Each box serves a different function while allowing for a large, continuous open space for public viewing and events. The position of the boxes and the interior d├ęcor can vary.

The temporary sales pavilion allows OPEN Architecture to realize its vision of mass-customization that they started when the firm started about a decade ago in New York, such as the eco-tube and XYZ housing works.

Temporary Event Space Being Converted into Permanent Community Center

dome outsideDanish designers Kristoffer Tejlgaard and Benny Jepsen constructed the People’s Meeting Dome twice as a temporary meeting space. They are now in the process of reconstructing it as a gift from BL (Denmark’s Public Housing) and Lokale & Anlaegsfolden to the Island of Bornholm and the city of Allinge to be used as a permanent community and event center.

The dome was originally intended to be constructed, deconstructed, and transported. They are now adapting the temporary structure for permanent use with a half basement that will include public restrooms. It will be surrounded by a series of terraces to make its outdoor areas more usable.

The structure was designed as a geodesic dome, which is mathematically generated in the form of a column-free lattice structure that provides flexibility for the interior and exterior designs. Windows and openings can be placed throughout the building, and the interior walls do not need to be load-bearing.

domeThe dome’s design and construction were based on a 3D model of the skeleton, which enabled the designers to create the lattice structure by cutting precise printed nodes with lasers and assembling them with robots. The skeleton is as strong as the frame of a house.

The dome is constructed with 2×4 inch and 2×6 inch timber and plywood beams with four strength classes to minimize the amount of material needed. All of the wood used is Douglas pine grown locally.

The building envelope is like a tent. It is constructed with translucent greenhouse material on the spherical surfaces and transparent PVC film to create windows on the perpendicular surfaces.

The dome will be inaugurated at the next Folkemode, an annual political meeting. The designers and BL hope that it will be used for a variety of community events, such as physical activities, parties, meetings, and speeches.

Fire Shelter: 01 Provides a Refuge in the Wilderness

Fire ShelterDanish design firm SHJ Works has designed and constructed Fire Shelter: 01, a temporary structure located in the wilderness a 20-minute bicycle ride from Copenhagen, Denmark.

The structure is inspired by the architecture of ethnic and nomadic peoples. The temporary project is intended to celebrate the beauty of the location without leaving a trace on the landscape after it is removed. The area is filled with wildlife, including plants, bushes, trees, and animals.

The rounded structure is constructed of plywood and polycarbonate fabricated using CNC technology. The structure measures 4.7 meters tall and 3.8 meters in diameter. The walls are 2 to 9 mm thick and consist of thin, bendable shells that are tightened with bolts and a piece of 2 mm-thick polycarbonate.

The bottom of the structure is made of plywood, and the fire place inside is surrounded by a bench that is filled with building materials found on the site. The ballast secures the shelter to the ground, eliminating the need to dig a foundation. The upper part of the shelter is covered with white transparent polycarbonate. The transparent material allows daylight in during the day, and at night it shows the light from the fire burning inside.

The shelter was constructed without the use of ladders and is intended as a gift to the public. The designers hope that it will remain on the site for a year before it is removed and the site is returned to its original state.