3D printed office building being built in Dubai

museum of the future 3D printed building
© Museum of the Future

TreeHugger has been watching the development of the WinSun 3D printed building system, from its start doing little houses with clever tilt-up wall slices to its faux chateaux and apartment buildings. It was ugly but it worked.

Now they are breaking out into the world in a joint venture with international investors, and hooking up with well-known architects and engineers, Gensler, Thornton Thomasetti, and Syska Hennessy, and producing buildings you want to look at, including what they call “the world’s first fully functional 3D printed building” in Dubai, and it’s not dubious at all.

The 2,000 square foot office building will be printed layer by layer in what looks like WinSun’s original tilt-up system, which is really a brilliant innovation as it forms floors, walls and roof all in one squirted-out layer of fiber -reinforced cement. Just stick your windows on the end and you have a complete building envelope. The renderings look a lot more like a house and garage than they do an office building (and really, a fireplace in Dubai?) and given that they say it is a temporary office for the staff of the new Museum of the Future, perhaps that is its end use.

As seen in this photo of the prototype in an earlier post, it actually works like a truss with space in the wall for wiring and services, and perhaps sprayed-in insulation. The breathless press release promises big things:

The project marks the beginning of an important transformation in the construction and design sector; the shift to 3D printing and digital fabrication. Although long tested in labs, 3D printing technology is rapidly coming of age. This project will be the most advanced 3D printed structure ever built at this scale and the first to be put into actual use.

Big savings in production times (50 to 70 percent) and labor costs (50 to 80%) are promised too, which “translate to enhanced productivity, higher economic return, and increased sustainability.”

The design team has come up with a building that highlights the virtues of the WinSun system with this sort of extruded tube aesthetic; it has come a long way in a short time. A UAE cabinet minister is quoted in the press release:

According to a UAE cabinet minister:

“This building will be a testimony to the efficiency and creativity of 3D printing technology, which we believe will play a major role in reshaping construction and design sectors. We aim to take advantage of this growth by becoming a global hub for innovation and 3D printing. This is the first step of many more to come.”

No kidding. We are going to see a lot more of this. And here is the video that shows how it is done in the factory:

3D printed office building being built in Dubai
Decent architects put WinSun's terrific tilt-up concrete building system through its paces and the results are not dubious at all.

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