WATG and Branch Technologies

The wonder of 3D printing technologies have been ebbing and flowing in and out of the housing design realm. Here, WATG and Branch Technologies take a different approach to combine 3D printing with conventional building for a more efficient, lower cost construction.

The first example of a hybrid 3D printed building, combining large-scale additive manufacture with traditional construction materials and techniques, will break ground in the US this spring.

Curve Appeal is a geometrically complex, flowing single storey home, designed by Chicago-based architect WATG, for a site in a wooded location close to the Tennessee River.

The practice won a competition to design the first ever building using the ‘Freeform’ printing process, developed by 3D printing specialist Branch Technology.

The home will be supported on a curved 3D printed lattice structure, comprising three interconnected domes printed by a six-axis industrial robot fitted with a custom-made extruder.

The lattice will be in-filled with a wall assembly of traditional construction materials, such as external concrete, foam insulation and a gypsum interior surface, applied either by specialist trades or using robots.

The project aims to reinterpret a kit-of-parts approach to construction pioneered in Los Angeles between 1945 and 1966 during the Case Study Houses Program. The 36 highly experimental prototype residences built during the Program were early examples of mass-produced modern homes designed to be easily and cheaply constructed during the post-war building boom.

Daniel Craven, lead designer for the project at WATG, told BIM+: “We are creating our own future housing prototype that shows how 3D printing and a kit of parts can be combined to deliver buildings quickly and cheaply.

“Instead of printing layers and contours to create a solid object, as with conventional 3D printing, we will print a lattice framework that forms the interior structure onto which conventional construction materials can be applied.”

The project team worked with structural engineer Thornton Tomasetti to develop the 3D printed matrix, which is essentially a small-space frame and therefore highly efficient.

Read More