It seems like only yesterday (in fact it was only yesterday) that I was dissing the idea of 3D printing housing. But that was before I saw Haseef Rafiei’s entry in the 2017 Evolo skyscraper competition. It got an honourable mention, but I have often found these to be more interesting than the winners.
Rafiei was inspired by the Metabolists, particularly Kisho Kurokawa’s Nagakin Capsule Tower in Japan. But Rafiei builds on ideas and tools that Kurokawa could only dream of: 3D printers.
The proliferation of vending machines in Tokyo is impossible to ignore. These machines have minimised the cost of human labour, eliminating the need for sales clerks. The Pod Vending Machine explores the possibility of converting the real estate industry into an automated vending system.
The building production method adopts an automated system in which ready-to-use pods are manufactured, plugged onto site and can be purchased instantly. A pod printer that 3D prints modular dwellings is installed above the building. The printer will dispense pods and will grow higher as the building grows. Inspired by a commonly used machine that dispenses nearly all of life's necessities for the people of Tokyo, this vast framed structure aims to house a large number of pods equipped with basic amenities for residential and commercial use.
So it is a giant vending machine with a 3D printer on top. You choose the parts and amenities you want and it gets printed out from materials that are pumped up from the base. As more people buy housing units the printer is jacked up higher and new floors are added. Then a crane takes the printed unit it is plugged in.
As needs change say as when a family expands, units can be unplugged and moved and combined with other units.
The design of the infrastructure suggests a dynamic environment where spaces for social interaction is established in several pockets throughout the building. The spatial structure of the building is designed to be flexible and mobile. Modules within the complex can move and regroup through mobile cranes and mechanical arms. The frame structure remains a constantly growing and developing spatial complex.