Decoding Design

In Denmark, a printable house

Posting in Architecture

A house designed and built with a computer, printer, and plywood might be the home of the future.

In a forest north of Copenhagen, Danish architects Frederik Agdrup and Nicholas Bjorndal of Eentileen used just a computer, a printer and 820 sheets of plywood to build a 125 square meter (1,345 square foot) home in four weeks. Named Villa Asserbo, the home is the pilot project of Eentileen's Print a House project, a collaboration with Facit Homes. The designers and fabricators are touting the process of mass-customizing houses and responsibly producing them on site.

Matthew Stock's video report for Reuters presents the first Danish digitally fabricated house, and what Eentileen and Facit Homes hope will be the house of the future.

The Print a House process begins as a 3D model which is translated into a manufacturing template and sent to a printer, i.e. a CNC machine. The CNC machine, a computerized milling machine, then cuts sheets of plywood into pieces that can be slotted and fitted together. The architects developed their method to maximize efficiency, minimize environmental impact, and reduce construction errors in the building process. Agdrup and Bjorndal say that their Print a House method allows a house to be built by two people without heavy machinery.

Several aspects of the project minimize its environmental impact:

  • The project uses no concrete
  • Wood is the only wall material used, with the exception of glass windows
  • The wood is PEFC certified from sustainable forests in Finland
  • The CNC-machine wastes very little material
  • Structural steel is minimal
  • The structure touches the ground only at its screw pile foundations

The concept's appeal is that it can be adapted to different situations and locations, such as post-disaster areas. Printing the house is not the most important thing here. The digital techniques and the portability of those techniques are the goals.

In the video, Anders Thomsen from Denmark's Technological Institute calls the concept revolutionary and the project's application global:

"And the reason why is that you have every information: design, interface, everything in a digital platform. And you can just deliver that file to Norway, to China, to the countries that you want to export this concept to - and they can adjust it to the market there."

As long as they have the raw materials, the computer equipment, and the printer.

Are these quasi-prefabricated homes really the home of the future?

Related on SmartPlanet:

WikiHouse: An open source home design and build kit

Pricey pitfall of prefab homes

Firm turns shipping pallets into transitional homes for refugees

Edited 5/15/2012 to add: Facit Homes, based in London, are the fabricators for the project.

Via: ArchDaily, Archinect

Images: UPM, Diagram by Larry Sass

Sun Kim

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Sun Joo Kim is an architect and creative consultant based in Boston. Her projects include design and master planning of museums, public institutions, hospitals, and university buildings across the U.S. She holds a degree from Carnegie Mellon University and is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure