Digitally transforming affordable social housing
There is little doubt that 3D printing has the potential to revolutionize our industry, in terms of design ingenuity, speed of construction, affordability and environmental impact. Recently the Yhnova project by the University of Nantes in France put this technology to the test in the realm of affordable housing, assembling a team of researchers, architects, scientists and industry players to build an affordable 95m2 family home in a couple of days.
University researchers designed the Batiprint3D robot, whose laser system guided its four-meter arm in printing three layers; two of foam insulation and one of concrete. This was then covered in finishing plaster to create the curved walls of the five-room home. LafargeHolcim not only sponsored this project, but provided the specially adapted printable concrete mix to address the specific needs of the project: low hydration heat and fast setting.
Lafarge France teams sourced the available materials locally, and the nearby Saint Herblain concrete plant did a wonderful job accommodating the needs of this experimental worksite. Long-term LafargeHolcim collaborator, Bouygues Construction France, acted throughout the project in quality of master builder.
The result is a home that was quick and affordable to build, and energy efficient and spacious thanks to its curved walls. But the project does not end here, and built-in sensors will monitor the success of the structure and its thermal and acoustic properties over time in order to optimize future builds. We are in the early stages of application of 3D printed construction technology, but this has been an invaluable experience of the use of a robot on a real worksite!