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This groundbreaking 3D-printed house doesn’t just move beyond the four-wall paradigm with its curvaceous shape, it bursts through the boundaries of traditional construction methods and building systems. There’s been a lot of talk lately among architecture enthusiasts about the ‘fourth industrial revolution’ of 3D printing and what it will mean for the buildings of the future, and if this house is any indication, we could see some incredibly creative (not to mention futuristic) experimentation hitting the ground over the next few years. The ‘Curve Appeal’ concept by WATG Chicago’s Urban Architecture Studio won first prize in the Freeform Home Design Challenge, which challenges designers to create “the world’s first freeform 3D-printed residence.”
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Participants were asked to design a 600 to 800-square-foot single-family home that shoots past traditional architectural aesthetics as well as the way buildings are constructed from the ground up. Launched by Chattanooga startup Branch Technology, the competition challenged designers to use the company’s patented Cellular Fabrication technology (C-Fab), a futuristic building solution combining the muscle of robotics with malleable yet strong materials that can be squirted through a nozzle to form complex three-dimensional shapes of all sorts.
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This makes it easier than ever to 3D-print complex freeform structures full of curves. During printing, the robot solidifies a mix of carbon fiber and ABS plastic into an open, unsupported space. The resulting structure is super light in weight, finished with foam and concrete to make it strong and insulating.
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“We create the complexity of a cellular construct into which economical construction materials are applied to provide the function and strength of a wall assembly,” says Branch Technology of C-Fab. “Composite structures are created using the same methodology with which nature builds. Like bones in our body or trees in the forest, optimized geometries are made strong and functional by the material filling the matrix. The interior and exterior skin can then be finished in any fashion.”
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‘Curve Appeal’ mimics a natural rock formation with its smooth concrete exterior, yet has a space-age feel at the same time. It’s low to the ground but filled with lots of airy open spaces and light-filled interior living spaces incorporating passive solar design strategies. The interior core with its quadrilaterally aligned archways acts as a support structure for the exterior skin, which replaces traditional walls and roofing. The result blends into the landscape, adhering to Branch Technology’s “build like nature” motto.
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The design “responds well to the site conditions, magnifies the possibilities of cellular fabrication and pushes the envelope of what is possible, while still utilizing more economical methods of conventional building systems integration,” says Platt Boyd, Founder of Branch Technology.
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The design goes into the planning phase for its actual construction this summer, and will become a reality sometime in 2017. 28 panels will be 3D-printed off site and then slotted together into four main sections on-location. These sections will be hoisted and joined together to create the final shape of the home. All three top designs, including the People’s Choice and Visionary Award winners, can be seen on the Branch Technology website.