- Architect In Charge: Weiguo Xu
- Design Team: Weiguo Xu, Yuan Gao, Chenwei Sun, Zhi Wang, Yuting He, Xiayu Zhao, Dong Han, Zhiling Zhang, Fang Cui
- City: Wuxi
- Country: China
Text description provided by the architects. A team from the Tsinghua University School of Architecture led by professor Xu Weiguo has independently researched and developed a “Mobile Platform of Robotic 3D Printing in Concrete” and a “Rapid Construction System for Concrete Houses”. Recently, the two technological achievements have been successfully applied in the actual printing/construction of a model house for low-income housing in Africa, resulting in a genuine 3D printed concrete building being completed at the Experimental Base of Wuxi Research Institute of Applied Technologies Tsinghua University.
The “Rapid Construction System for Concrete Houses” is designed specifically for low-income families in Africa. With an area of 40㎡, the house contains a porch, a guest dining room, bedrooms, a kitchen, and a bathroom, etc., meeting the living demand of up to 4 individuals. The porch, kitchen, and bathroom are arranged on one side of the house, forming a rectangular unit; the guest dining room and bedrooms are arranged on the other, with a light partition wall or storage furniture in the middle separating the two parts. The layout of the house is flexible so that it can adapt to actual living requirements. The roof consists of two-barrel arches, among which one is larger than the other, covering respectively the above-mentioned spaces while creating a spacious and comfortable indoor environment underneath. A Floor-to-ceiling window is installed on both the south and the north side of the house while a skylight is used in the kitchen roof, providing ample lighting for the indoor space. The exterior walls adopted the traditional local woven texture as decoration, which was printed altogether with the wall structure by the robotic 3-D printing equipment. The thermal insulation material is poured into the gap within the wall, forming an integrative exterior wall system with decoration, structure, and insulation all in one. The building comes with a simple and modern architectural image while responding to the local cultural traditions.
The “Mobile Platform of Robotic 3-D Printing in Concrete” contains a mobile robotic arm with a 3-D printing device, a rail with a mobile lift platform, and a dragging-suspending platform, etc. In the 3-D printing device, the robotic arm and the printing front-end are installed and designed to be movable on the lift platform. The printing material, the appending machine, the stirring and pumping all-in-one machine, and the control equipment, on the other hand, are installed on the dragging-suspending platform. In order to print/construct a whole house, the printing platform requires only two persons pushing buttons on the mobile platform. While substantially integrating and simplifying the technique of 3-D printing in concrete, it reduces the human input in the printing/construction process to a minimum. This printing platform enables direct, on-site printing of all bases, walls, and roofs, resulting in rapid construction at a low cost.
Currently, the team led by professor Xu Weiguo has moved on to Wujiazhuang Village in Xiahuayuan District, Zhangjiakou City, Hebei Province. There they are conducting a 3-D printing/construction experiment for dwellings in rural China, specifically on the actual printing of the Juanzi House in the village. The Juanzi House is a five-bay farmhouse in which three are relatively larger than the other two. The three larger ones are to function as living room and bedrooms with barrel arches as their roof. The two smaller ones are to serve as kitchen and bathroom with a flattop. 3 sets of mobile platforms are being used in the printing of the farmhouse, which is located right in the middle of the 3 larger bays. The base, walls, and roof of the house are being printed on-site simultaneously. Currently, it is still under construction.
Poverty Alleviation and rural reconstruction are important tasks for our current social development. However, most of our current rural reconstruction merely achieved improvements in the public environment, such as road construction and repair, laying of municipal pipelines, facade redecoration of residential houses, and so on. The fact of the matter is, living spaces and indoor living conditions of these rural houses remain without any substantial transformation. The “Mobile Platform of Robotic 3-D Printing in Concrete” and the “Rapid Construction System for Concrete Houses” on the other hand, can rebuild rural houses one-by-one in an organic renewal fashion, therefore significantly contribute to the rural housing construction.