The office building of the future?

As 3D-printing technology becomes more sophisticated as designers continue to push the boundaries of what can be done, it is becoming more evident that 3D printed buildings could become less of an architectural dream and more of a reality.

© Dubai Media Office

This is certainly the case for this fully functional 3D printed building in Dubai (where else?)

The initial proposal for the building first saw the light of day last year and many were skeptical at first but Crown Prince of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum was there for the opening and said:

‘We announce today the opening of the first 3D-printed office in the world, less than one month after the launching of the Dubai 3D printing strategy, which showcases a modern model of construction. This is an example we can present to the world on how you could utilize future technology’

Crown Prince of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum in front of the building © Dubai Media Office

Using WinSun, a Chinese company’s tilt-up technology, the floor, walls and ceiling are all printed on their side in 2D layer by layer before being tilted vertically. This method is more suited to single storey buildings and would be even better utilized if the 3D printer is situated on site. In this case however, the building was built in WinSun’s factory in China. The modules were cut in half and shipped before being reassembled on the site in Dubai. 

According to Architect Magazine, The approximately 250m², single-story, multi-building campus was designed by Gensler for the United Arab Emirates National Committee as the headquarters for the Dubai Future Foundation (DFF).

© Dubai Media Office

“This paves the way for a future where 3D printing can help resolve pressing environmental and urbanization issues, and it allows us to deliver highly customized spaces for our clients in a much shorter time frame,” Gensler principal Richard Hammond said in a statement. Gensler worked with structural engineering firm Thornton Tomasetti and mechanical engineering firm Syska Hennessy to realize the design.

According to the press release: 

“A 3D-printer measuring 20-feet high, 120-feet long and 40-feet wide was used to print the building that featured an automated robotic arm to implement printing process. The method cut the labour cost by more than 50 per cent compared to conventional buildings of similar size. As a fact, one staff was required to monitor the function of the printer, a group of seven people to install the building components on site and a team of 10 electricians and specialists to take care of the mechanical and electrical engineering.”

While architectural implementation on this scale for 3D printing is still in its infancy, it is only a matter of time before we start to see more and more buildings using the technology in some way during the construction.

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