14Trees, a joint venture with British International Investment, the UK’s Development Finance Institution (DFI), impact investor and Holcim, has completed the successful construction of the largest 3D-printed affordable housing project to date. The 3D printing of the 10 housing units in Kenya’s Mvule Gardens project was made possible with TectorPrint, Holcim’s proprietary, innovative, and versatile 3D printing system, produced in Kenya for the first time.
The project’s advanced sustainability profile has attained an EDGE Advanced sustainable design certification by IFC, the World Bank’s development finance institution, which recognizes resource-efficient buildings with the potential to be zero-carbon. It is the first time a 3D-printed housing project has attained this certification.
Holcim says TectorPrint is the first Holcim dry mortar product range for 3D printing and has been developed in collaboration with the Holcim Innovation Center. This new product range includes both cement and natural hydraulic lime solutions, and covers convert pressure levels between 2 MPa up to 90 MPa for high print speed capacity. TectorPrint is flexible and can adapt to a wide variety of customer needs, in both residential and infrastructure projects. As 3D printing technology uses only the materials the building requires, it helps optimize the amount of materials used and minimize errors in the construction work.
François Perrot, Managing Director of 14Trees: “With 3D printing, you can solve two problems at once. You can build faster and with better cost efficiency, which will help make affordable housing a reality for the majority. In addition, you can build with less materials, which preserves the resources of the planet for future generations.”
Miljan Gutovic, Region Head for Europe at Holcim: “I am very proud of the work done by 14Trees in Africa, where their innovations in 3D printing technology are accelerating affordable and sustainable building. I look forward to 14Trees replicating these successes in Europe and other parts of Africa in the very near future.”
Building on 14Trees’ world-first 3D-printed school in Malawi, the Mvule Gardens 52-house complex is scaling up affordable housing in Kenya to help bridge the country’s infrastructure gap and deliver affordable, climate-friendly homes at scale. The complex is being printed in phases of 10-15 houses and tests new innovations with each phase. I really like the agility and flexibility associated with this 3D printing process.
14Trees is using a 3D printer capable of building structures more than 10 meters long. TectorPrint is flexible and can adapt to a wide variety of needs, which enables the fast construction of affordable and sustainable homes at scale. The new technology also supports the creation of highly-skilled jobs, with local workers being trained as 3D machine assistants and specialists.
According to the UN Habitat’s World Cities Report 2020: The Value of Sustainable Urbanization, prospective homeowners all over the world are compelled to save more than five times their annual income to afford the price of a standard house. The report also says 1.6 billion people, or 20% of the world’s population, live in inadequate housing, of which one billion reside in slums and informal settlements. This just goes to show that the challenge to address these issues is immense and addressing this housing backlog with the current construction methods will not be sustainable. It will be really hard to cut down this backlog fast enough and will not be very sustainable from a resource utilization point of view. Automation and increased productivity enables 3D printed shells of houses to be built 9X faster than with traditional construction methods. Acceleration of the adoption of 3D printed homes could therefore be one of the best avenues to address the housing crisis globally.
I am really looking forward to seeing more projects like this. This gives us one of the best options to address the housing backlog affecting many countries on the African continent and around the world.
Images from Holcim
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