Construction technology company Mighty Buildings has completed a new 3D-printed Accessory Dwelling Unit in San Diego, California. The company recently launched with the aim of using 3D printing and robotic automation to build more affordable and sustainable homes. Their pilot project, the Mighty Duo B, comprises two modular units that took eight total weeks from fabrication to assembly on site.
3 D Printing Homes: The Latest Architecture and News
San Antonio based architecture firm Overland Partners have designed a series of proposals for new 3D printed neighborhoods in Texas. Teaming up with nonprofit, 3 Strands Neighborhoods, and ICON, a creator of printers, robotics, and advanced materials, the firm utilized the Vulcan II 3D printer to revolutionize home building. The collaboration aims to address the housing crisis in America and establish a sense of community for disadvantaged families.
Architecture is quickly adopting the popular technology of robots. Although it is slightly hard to define what “robot” really means, for architecture, it tends to refer to anything from robot arms to CNC mills to 3D printers. Basically, they are programmable, mechanical, and automated instruments that assist in processes of digital fabrication.
So, what might robots mean for architecture? A more precise architecture which could contribute to a more sustainable building life cycle? More innovative design derived from algorithmic processes? A more efficient prefabrication process that could reduce the time and cost of construction?
Probably a mix of all three. But more importantly, what might robots mean for humans? Robotic replacement for the construction worker? Loss of local craftsmanship and construction knowledge? Maybe. But I might reformulate the question. Asking what robots mean for humans implies passivity.
What I ask, then, is what can robots do for humans?
In 2006, Dr. Behrokh Khoshnevis, professor at the University of Southern California, introduced the world to Contour Crafting: the idea of applying Computer Aided Design and 3D Printing to homes and eventually larger buildings. As Dr. Khoshnevis explains in this TED Talk, Contour Crafting uses a giant 3D printer that hangs over a designated space and robotically builds up the walls of that building with layers of concrete. The robot can paint the walls and tile surfaces and even knows to construct plumbing and electrical wiring as it goes (Dvice). The idea is that by automating the construction process - one of the only processes humans still do largely by hand - homes will be cheaper and more quickly erected, with significantly lower labor costs. More importantly, Khoshnevis believes that Contour Crafting is essential to creating a more "dignified" architecture by eliminating slums in developing countries and aiding areas in the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster.