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Build ‘em faster - New House Building Methods

Before robots take over our lives and make all of us redundant we’ll have to go through a transition period in which machines make and assemble things in a much quicker way before finally being assembled by people.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the building trade. Houses, tower blocks, hospitals and other buildings can take years to build and whilst some of this can be down to the builders arranging more than one job at the same time, more often than not it’s because of the waiting for things to be fabricated or the concrete to dry.

The solution to this is modern manufacturing methods and recycling of old products. Shipping containers are an ideal solution to quickly building the walls of any building and have been used in many different situations. Companies such as Container City have been showing how these boxes can be repurposed for modern living and working and even Starbucks have begun using containers to build some of their new stores as this CNN video shows.
As well as containers, one of the latest building methods to arrive is prefabricated buildings which can be delivered and assembled on site. PİRAZİZ International Service Solutions are designing and building offices, homes and kiosks in their factory and then delivering them to site, already laid out with wiring runs and holes so plumbers and electricians can come in straight away and simply put the pipes and wires in without needing to drill extra cavities. Depending on the complexity of the project it can take about three months to build and install and then move into a prefabricated home, with a majority of that time being spent on ground works. For an average family home a standard traditional build can take six to nine months.

Whilst Piraziz are building their houses from wooden board in a giant factory and then shipping everything to site, Dutch architectural firm DUS architects have decided to employ a giant 3D printing machine on site so that all the components can be manufactured on the fly. The KramerMaker is a container sized 3D printer which is now in Version 2 and getting better with each reiteration. In fact KramerMaker 2 can now print three times faster. At present it’s a research project, but so far this proof of concept is showing what can be done by printing using bioplastic (an industrial glue made from 80% vegetable oil) and then locking the shapes into place so no cements are used. You can watch a host of videos about the project here.
If however, the idea of living in a plastic house doesn’t appeal and you’d rather your building was made from more traditional materials, Enrico Dini and his company Monolite UK have developed a 3D printer which sprays a sand and binder mixture into layers which increase to form the structure. Because, these structures aren’t restricted by mold sizes and can be built into any shape these are an architect’s dream as they can explore their artistic side and give us even more interesting designs in just a quarter of the time. To develop this process cost Enrico a great deal and his story has been documented in this film and the first 3D printed mansion and tower block have been produced in Suzhou, China as this article demonstrates.

It’s still early days but production techniques are changing and in time we may require less and less on brickies and unskilled laborers to build our homes.