Building sites are going to look a bit different, in the future for many reasons such as those proposed by ScienceDirect a year ago in their introduction to “3D Printing of Buildings: Construction of the Sustainable Houses of the Future by BIM Mehmet Sakin*, Yusuf Caner Kiroglu”. This explains that 3D printing is a process by which physical objects are created by depositing materials in layers based on a digital model. All 3D printing processes require software, hardware, and materials to work together. The first 3D printer was invented in 1983 by Charles W. and over the last decades, 3D printing has become one of the fastest growing technologies nowadays. In its early days, it was very complicated and expensive technology.
It’s often claimed that 3D printing – known in the trade as “additive manufacturing” – will change the way we live. Most recently, a team from Eindhoven University of Technology announced plans to build the “world’s first” habitable 3D printed houses. But it’s one thing to build small, prototype homes in a park – it’s quite another to successfully use additive manufacturing for large scale projects in the construction sector.
Additive manufacturing uses a combination of materials science, architecture and design, computation and robotics. Yet in some ways, it’s not as futuristic as it sounds. The simple approach of layer-wise construction – where building materials are layered on top of each other to create a facade – has already been practised for a long time in the construction sector, for example in conventional brick layering techniques.
The true novelty of additive manufacturing lies in its ability to combine new, highly efficient and sustainable materials with architectural design software and robotic technology, to automate and improve processes that have already been proven manually. In this sense, additive manufacturing holds many potentially groundbreaking benefits for the construction sector.
3D printing can produce up to 30% less material waste, use less energy and fewer resources, enable in-situ production (which in turn cuts transport costs), grant greater architectural freedom and generate fewer CO₂ emissions over the entire lifecycle of the product.
But there is still some way to go before additive manufacturing technology can deliver on its potential. There are several different components of additive manufacturing, each of which must be developed and refined before the process can be successfully used in large-scale construction.
One component is printable feedstocks – the materials which are actually “printed” to create the final product. There are many types of printable feedstock, but the most relevant one for large scale construction is concrete. Printable feedstocks are typically made from a combination of bulk materials – such as soil, sand, crushed stone, clay and recycled materials – mixed with a binder such as Portland cement, fly ash or polymers, as well as other additives and chemical agents to allow the concrete to set faster and maintain its shape, so that the layers can be deposited rapidly.
In a project I am currently working on at Brunel University, we are focusing on producing a printable cement feedstock. To create materials for 3D printed constructions, scientists must carefully control the setting time of the paste, the stability of first few layers and the bonding between the layers. The behaviour of the materials must be thoroughly investigated under a range of conditions, to achieve a robust structure which can take load.
The combination of cement, sand and other additives must be just right, so that the feedstocks don’t set while still in the printer, and don’t stay wet for too long once they have been deposited to form a structure. Different grades of feedstock need to be formulated and developed, so that this technology can be used to build a range of different structural elements, such as load-bearing and large-scale building blocks.
Another component is the printer, which must have a powerful pump to suit the scale of manufacturing in the construction industry. The pressure and flow rate of the printer must be trialled with different types of feedstocks. The speed and the size of the printer is key to achieving a good print quality: smooth surface, square edges and a consistent width and height for each layer.
How quickly the feedstock materials are deposited – typically measured in centimetres per hour – can speed up or slow down construction. Decreasing the setting time of the feedstock means that the printer can work faster – but it also puts the feedstock at risk of hardening inside the printer system. The printing system should be optimised to continuously deliver the feedstock materials at a constant rate, so that the layers can fuse together evenly.
The geometry of the structures produced is the final piece of the puzzle, when it comes to using 3D printing in construction. When the printer and the feedstock have been properly set up, they will be able to produce full-size building blocks with a smart geometry which can take load without reinforcements. The shape stability of the truss-like filaments in these blocks is an essential part of printing, which provides strength and stiffness to the printed objects.
This three-pronged approach to adapting additive manufacturing for construction could revolutionise the industry within the next ten to 15 years. But before that can happen, scientists need to fine tune the mix ratios for the feedstocks, and refine a printing system which can cope with the rapid manufacturing of building blocks. Only then can the potential of 3D printing be harnessed to build faster, and more sustainably, than ever before.
Further to Global Inequality is on the Rise at different Countries Rates we propose Kaushik Basu, writing for Project-Syndicate since 2002 is a former Chief Economist of the World Bank, and Professor of Economics at Cornell University and Non-resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. He has on December 15, 2017, elaborated on how inequality deepening worldwide challenges all great, small, rich and poor.
As inequality continues to deepen worldwide, we do not have the luxury of sticking to the status quo. Unless we confront the inequality challenge head on – as we have just begun to do with another existential threat, climate change – social cohesion, and especially democracy, will come under growing threat.
MUMBAI – At the end of a low and dishonest year, reminiscent of the “low, dishonest decade” about which W.H. Auden wrote in his poem “September 1, 1939,” the world’s “clever hopes” are giving way to recognition that many severe problems must be tackled. And, among the severest, with the gravest long-term and even existential implications, is economic inequality.
The alarming level of economic inequality globally has been well documented by prominent economists, including Thomas Piketty, François Bourguignon, Branko Milanović, and Joseph E. Stiglitz, and well-known institutions, including OXFAM and the World Bank. And it is obvious even from a casual stroll through the streets of New York, New Delhi, Beijing, or Berlin.
Voices on the right often claim that this inequality is not only justifiable, but also appropriate: wealth is a just reward for hard work, while poverty is an earned punishment for laziness. This is a myth. The reality is that the poor, more often than not, must work extremely hard, often in difficult conditions, just to survive.
Moreover, if a wealthy person does have a particularly strong work ethic, it is likely attributable not just to their genetic predisposition, but also to their upbringing, including whatever privileges, values, and opportunities their background may have afforded them. So, there is no real moral argument for outsize wealth amid widespread poverty.
This is not to say that there is no justification for any amount of inequality. After all, inequality can reflect differences in preferences: some people might consider the pursuit of material wealth more worthwhile than others. Moreover, differential rewards do indeed create incentives for people to learn, work, and innovate, activities that promote overall growth and advance poverty reduction.
But, at a certain point, inequality becomes so severe that it has the opposite effect. And we are far beyond that point.
Plenty of people – including many of the world’s wealthy – recognize how unacceptable severe inequality is, both morally and economically. But if the rich speak out against it, they are often shut down and labelled hypocrites. Apparently, the desire to lessen inequality can be considered credible or genuine only by first sacrificing one’s own wealth.
The truth, of course, is that the decision not to renounce, unilaterally, one’s wealth does not discredit a preference for a more equitable society. To label a wealthy critic of extreme inequality as a hypocrite amounts to an ad hominem attack and a logical fallacy, intended to silence those whose voices could make a difference.
Fortunately, this tactic seems to be losing some of its potency. It is heartening to see wealthy individuals defying these attacks, not only by openly acknowledging the economic and social damage caused by extreme inequality, but also by criticizing a system that, despite enabling them to prosper, has left too many without opportunities.
In particular, some wealthy Americans are condemning the current tax legislation being pushed by Congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump’s administration, which offers outsize cuts to the highest earners – people like them. As Jack Bogle, the founder of Vanguard Group and a certain beneficiary of the proposed cuts, put it, the plan – which is all but guaranteed to exacerbate inequality – is a “moral abomination.”
Yet recognizing the flaws in current structures is just the beginning. The greater challenge is to create a viable blueprint for an equitable society. (It is the absence of such a blueprint that has led so many well-meaning movements in history to end in failure.) In this case, the focus must be on expanding profit-sharing arrangements, without stifling or centralizing market incentives that are crucial to drive growth.
A first step would be to give all of a country’s residents the right to a certain share of the economy’s profits. This idea has been advanced in various forms by Marty Weitzman, Hillel Steiner, Richard Freeman, and, just last month, Matt Bruenig. But it is particularly vital today, as the share of wages in national income declines, and the share of profits and rents rises – a trend that technological progress is accelerating.
There is another dimension to profit-sharing that has received little attention, related to monopolies and competition. With modern digital technology, the returns to scale are so large that it no longer makes sense to demand that, say, 1,000 firms produce versions of the same good, each meeting one-thousandth of total demand.
A more efficient approach would have 1,000 firms each creating one part of that good. So, when it comes to automobiles, for example, one firm would produce all of the gears, another producing all of the brake pads, and so on.
Traditional antitrust and pro-competition legislation – which began in 1890 with the Sherman Act in the US – prevents such an efficient system from taking hold. But a monopoly of production need not mean a monopoly of income, as long as the shares in each company are widely held. It is thus time for a radical change, one that replaces traditional anti-monopoly laws with legislation mandating a wider dispersal of shareholding within each company.3
These ideas are largely untested, so much work would need to be done before they could be made operational. But as the world lurches from one crisis to another, and inequality continues to deepen, we do not have the luxury of sticking to the status quo. Unless we confront the inequality challenge head on, social cohesion and democracy itself will come under growing threat.
Yesterday May 1st, 2017, we would have liked to ponder on Israel’s current housing situation. The idea was spurred by Al Jazeera that on April 28th had on their show animated by one of their sharpest Mehdi Hassan looking at the very topic but in a different way asked Israeli diplomat Dani Dayan “ Have settlements killed the two-state solution? “
This latter did not waste time defending settlement building and / or housing units development as undertaken and / or allowed by the Israeli government despite all the noise that this is engendering. This made one wonder if all of the above was the result of what is presently on-going in not far from the West Bank territories where most of those above developments usually take place, but as it were in Israel proper. According to a RealtyToday citing a recent Bloomberg report on the matter and like for all countries developed and developing alike, lack of sufficient and / or suitable housing as elaborated on in this article sounded as if coming as a surprise of some sort to all.
Here it is with thanks to the authors and publishers :
Israel is facing a housing crisis with home prices continuing in the upward trend and home inventory lacking 100,000 apartments.
As reported by Bloomberg, the housing market could determine how the Israeli politicians would fare in the upcoming election in the country. The publication noted that while the country is home to top scientists and engineers, the housing problem can seem to be solved.
House prices, which have more than doubled in less than a decade, resulted in a mass protest back in 2011. Last year, Israel’s home prices rose 7.8 percent, largely driven by the government’s low benchmark rate. The average home price in the country stands at $360,000.
There is a need to increase the country’s housing supply, but building data doesn’t seem good. Last year, housing starts rose 3.9 percent, but completion rate dropped 2.8 percent.
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon has some measures to introduce but analysts are skeptical they would generated results in the near future. While waiting for the long-term policies to bring results, Kahlon introduced some short-term measures such as the increase in taxes for investors. These, however, fail to address the core issues, said Michael Sarel, a former Finance Ministry chief economist.
“Raising taxes on investors simply reduces the number of rental apartments, which hurts the middle and lower classes as well,” he told Bloomberg.
The government recently issued a call for bids from foreign construction companies. According to Globes, six firms will be chosen and each will be allowed to bring up to 1,000 workers to Israel. The call aims to boost construction of residential properties in the country and consequently close the gap between supply and demand. The shortage in housing supply has been driving housing prices in recent years.
3D printing has been pioneered in the GCC region for some time now especially in the building industry generally but more specifically in a skyscraper as recently reported in Dubai. The local media reported that a ‘quarter of buildings in Dubai will be based on 3D printing technology by 2030 under a new strategy launched by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’. Indeed, 3D printing of building combines mobile robots with existing construction methods to make the construction processes faster, cost-effective and possibly sustainable.
The GCC media elaborated at length on how 3D printing could decrease construction costs and shorten delivery timelines making it, in the future, easy for developers to propose affordable housing hence decreasing all risks of delayed delivery and above all costs overruns.
The only snag is that of the current legislation having been set for conventional building methods and developed by reference to the traditional approaches to construction and materials procurement would have to be revisited so as to allow a full extent of this technology in the future. This would objectively be an interesting road to go down on especially for the heavily populated regions of the MENA such as those of North Africa.
In any case, and if 3D printing as a construction method were to be widely adopted notably in the affordable housing segment, it would certainly give rise to new business models and contractual relationships between the different regions of the MENA.
Meanwhile, an interesting article of the World Economic Forum written by Alex Gray, Formative Content and published on Thursday 30 March 2017, illustrates well this new model of business and is reproduced here for hopefully our viewers’ appreciation.
House-building can be an irritatingly slow process. In the US it takes six months on average to construct a home. But now a robot can assemble the basic frame of a house — foundations, floor, walls and roof — in a single day.
Image: Apis Cor
The San Francisco start-up behind the robot, Apis Cor, says that it is the first company to develop a mobile 3D printer able to print entire buildings.
Here’s their first home going up on a site in Russia.
At 400 sq ft (38m²) the house is cosy but proves the point that fast turnaround home-building is now possible.
Image: Apis Cor
The cost of construction is about $10,000. And the buildings can be any shape, a potential boon for architects.
Such technology could help in areas with drastic housing shortages. And one American NGO, Field Ready, thinks that 3D printing could be deployed directly to disaster zones.
How to build a £10,000 House? Prefabricated house, self-build, surface reduced… the solutions exist. The vision, in this article, is certainly not the perception that most owners of what must be a decent and respectable house, i.e.: large, spacious, stone and on a large plot of land have. However for more than 90% of the world’s population, the reality is quite different; buildable green fields becoming rarer near workplaces if inexistent altogether, for instance in the UK and if ever there were any, they would be so expensive.
But for this new trend of micro and / or mini dwellings, the buildable surface is reduced to a minimum, for the obvious lowering of all costs and therefore that of allowing the first time buyers to purchase and enter the market. The micro-apartment as elaborated on by most designers can also be combined into apartment blocks as brought to under the spotlight by Newsweek’s Jonathan Glancey on October 16th, 2016.
Soon enough, short of some last-minute appeal on behalf of protesters, Brill Place Tower will be shooting up from a site in Somers Town, a slightly neglected district just north of St. Pancras station in central London. The 25-story building is actually a pencil-thin pair of what dRMM, its inventive young architects, call micro-towers, built on a footprint of just 3,767 square feet. It was granted planning permission this summer, as part of a £1 billion ($1.22 billion) regeneration plan backed by Sadiq Khan, London’s populist new mayor.
Historic England, a largely government-funded heritage group, is opposed to the tower, perhaps because, like a skinny catwalk model stamping on a wedding cake, it will pierce the neoclassical skyline of white stucco terraces that encircle Regent’s Park. But whatever your architectural taste, Brill Place is very much a sign of the times. It will hold 54 of what planners call “units,” a mixture of cunningly laid out one- and two-bedroom apartments. It’s a wholly commercial development, so you can bet none of them will be cheap, although, according to dRMM, the smallest of its one-bedroom units will cover just 590 square feet. (It’s not clear if the architects include the apartment’s balcony in that calculation.) These micro-towers will hold some microhomes.
Compared with some, though, they’re palatial. In Kips Bay in Manhattan, residents paying at least $2,650 a month recently moved into New York City’s first micro-apartment building—Carmel Place, nine stories of prefabricated steel and concrete studio units, sheathed in a facade of gray bricks. Designed by nArchitects, the project is the first fruit of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan—a scheme launched in 2004 and intended to create 165,000 affordable homes for low- and middle-income New Yorkers. Carmel Place features 55 rental units, most of them just 260 square feet in size.
The building’s floor plans are fairly ingenious, managing to squeeze in enough room for a sofa bed, a tiny table and a narrow area of storage above the shower room and kitchen. But, like shrunken versions of the old downtown railroad apartments, they’re more corridor than home. Carmel Place does feature a gym, a shared roof terrace, a lounge and a garden, storage for bicycles and a “butler service” to replenish empty fridges. But this communal, city-center style of living is really suitable only for the young and single: Few families, however close-knit, would attempt to squeeze into such limited space.
Why Carmel Place is important has less to do with its detailed design and prefabricated factory construction than the fact that it has revolutionized planning in Manhattan: Until now, local legislation prevailed against such tiny homes. In Seattle, meanwhile, developers have been building micro-apartments as small as 199 square feet.
The philosophy, or sales pitch, behind this extreme degree of minimal living is that the city itself, with its bars, cafés and youthful culture, serves as all the other spaces a young person might need or want. It’s an inescapable truth that, as cities across the world grow exponentially, huge numbers of new homes are needed, for the young, for service-industry workers who otherwise would be forced to live ever farther afield, for downsizing retirees and for professionals seeking city-center pieds-à-terre. No wonder, then, that towers of micro-apartments are catching on with planners, developers, architects and the property-hungry public.
We have been here before. Although very much back in vogue, experiments in micro-living have been made several times over the past 90 years, and the results, while fascinating, are not exactly encouraging. In the late 1960s, Tokyo boomed, and as it did, young people and modest “salary men” and their families sought affordable homes in sprawling new suburbs, commuting to the city center in the famously jam-packed Metro trains.
The late Kisho Kurokawa, then a radically minded 30-something architect, had an answer to the problem of this mass exodus of the young from Tokyo. This was his Nakagin Capsule Tower—although it was, like Brill Place, a pair of towers—completed in 1972 in the Shimbashi neighborhood. Prefabricated steel capsules, 140 of them, were bolted onto the two central concrete shafts. Each capsule provided a 94-square-foot space, into which was squeezed a bed, a kitchen surface, an aircraft-sized bathroom and the very latest in Japanese audio technology.
Nurtured in an era of minicars, miniskirts and the widespread belief that technological progress was wholly benevolent, Nakagin Capsule Tower was a much-feted, much-photographed revelation. Today, while the rest of Shimbashi is filled with expensive offices, the tower is in a sorry state. There has been no hot water here for some years. Rather than chic and futuristic micro-apartments, most of the capsules are boarded up or used for storage or as makeshift offices; a few capsules are available to rent through Airbnb. Residents wanted more space than Kurokawa could possibly offer, and although the plan had been for the capsules to be unbolted and replaced every 25 years, it failed: It was always going to be cheaper to demolish the towers and build anew, than go through all the palaver of replacing its intricate nest of high-tech capsules. This Japanese model of mass-produced city housing remains a custom-made novelty loved by architects, but shunned by the residential property market.
Even sorrier than the Nakagin Capsule Tower is the state of Moscow’s compelling Narkomfin apartment block, completed in 1932 to designs by Moisei Ginzburg and Ignaty Milinis. Here were tiny modern movement apartments served by communal kitchens, a laundry, a library, a gym and a roof terrace. This was to be a model of socialist living. Feminist living too. “Petty housework crushes, strangles and degrades,” wrote Vladimir Lenin in his essay “A Great Beginning,” saying it “chains her [the housewife of the capitalist era] to the kitchen. The real emancipation of women, real communism, will begin only where and when an all-out struggle begins…against this petty housekeeping.”
A rendering of the Brill Place Tower. DRMM
Stalin, however, put a sudden end to what he called such “Trotskyite” aberrations. Almost as soon as the first residents—some of whom installed their own tiny kitchens—moved in, the Narkomfin experiment of communal living was condemned, with rooms becoming individual, disconnected family units. Now a tarnished ragbag of empty apartments, artists’ studios and various oddball enterprises, the Narkomfin Building stands in the shadow of shiny new apartments. When, in 2004, Yuri Luzhkov, the former mayor of Moscow, opened the grotesque, 100,000-square-foot Novinsky Passage Mall, he is reputed to have said, while pointing to Ginzburg and Milinis’s yellowing masterpiece, “What a joy that in our city such wonderful new shopping centers are appearing—not such junk.”
From Junk to Trash
In spite of these failed monuments to capsule living, idealistic urban planners and architects press ahead. There’s a distinct echo of the Tokyo project in a new proposal from Jeff Wilson, a former associate professor of environmental studies at Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Texas. Wilson is perhaps best known for living for parts of 2014 and 2015 in a 33-square-foot dumpster converted into the tiniest and most unlikely home of all, but his latest project is more mobile. Called Kasita—from casita, Spanish for “little house”—it’s a proposal for prefabricated, 322-square-foot steel studios that can be slotted into a steel frame like bottles into a wine rack. The idea is that, should a resident want to move, it will be easy to lift these thoroughly equipped microapartments out from the rack and, with the help of cranes and a flatbed truck, transport them to a new location equipped with an identical steel rack.
This notion of moving home—your physical home—is certainly intriguing, although you might choose, as many American retirees have done, to invest in a motor home instead. It does highlight, however, one of the major criticisms of microliving, whether in Somers Town, Manhattan, Seattle or Texas. While tiny spaces might appeal to the young and single, what happens if a young single person meets another single young person and they produce a family?
Odds are, many will leave their micro-apartments, resulting in ever-shifting urban populations. Transience is one of the enemies of enduring communities. The more micro-apartments and towers there are, the more unsettled our city centers might become.
Will the latest wave of micro-apartments get the Luzhkov treatment and become the city slums of the future? Micro-towers may well be signs of the times, yet times change, and for most people, 260 square feet will never be quite enough.
World Habitat Day is observed on the first Monday of October of each year since 1986. The purpose of the day is to reflect on the condition of the world wide human dwelling basic systems and their adequate provision and timely maintenance. 2016 Theme: Housing at the Centre comes at a time where apparently more than a billion people worldwide live in very sub-standard living conditions. The MENA region has as bespoke a portfolio of housing stock as it has diverse geo political systems. Some are very advanced in their specification whilst others are either as backward as one can imagine and / or are presently in traumatic war conditions. In any case, there was nothing special about yesterday’s celebrations, or at least worth reporting in this article; that is before being reminded of this vital anniversary by EcoMENA .
We propose to republish the UN’s Habitat article here for its wide spread and reach, starting with a word of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
“On this World Habitat Day, I urge national and local governments, city planners and communities everywhere to keep “Housing at the Centre”. Guaranteeing dignity and opportunity for all depends on people having access to affordable and adequate housing. I look forward to a successful Habitat III Conference that will help us advance our sustainable development agenda for the benefit of all humankind.”
In Resolution 40/202 of 17 December 1985, the UN General Assembly designated the first Monday of October of every year as World Habitat Day.
The 2016 World Habitat Day campaign aims to raise awareness about the need for affordable housing for all in urban areas, towns and cities.
Access to adequate housing is a global challenge growing fast with urbanization. Around one quarter of the world’s urban population continues to live in slums and informal settlements.
An increasing number of urban dwellers, especially the poor and vulnerable groups (women, migrants, persons with disabilities and HIV, elder, youth and LGBT) are living in precarious conditions, addressing their housing needs informally, lacking access to basic services and living space, isolated from livelihood opportunities and vulnerable to forced evictions or homelessness.
Every day, as people are born in or move to urban centres in search of opportunities, the demand for housing grows. Globally, a billion new houses are needed by 2025 to accommodate 50 million new urban dwellers per year.
Habitat III, the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development will take place in Quito, Ecuador, from 17 – 20 October 2016.
We are also proposing the reading of this article of Habitat.org for its obvious interest and good intent.
More than 30 years ago, the United Nations General Assembly took an important step in promoting the idea that everyone deserves a decent place to live by declaring that the first Monday in October would be World Habitat Day.
On Monday, Oct. 3, 2016, Habitat for Humanity joins with our partners around the world to rededicate ourselves to recognizing the basic right of everyone to adequate shelter. Habitat for Humanity asks everyone to join together as one global network in communicating the message that every one of us deserves the opportunity for a better future, and that a decent place to live can remove barriers to opportunity, health and success that might have been part of a family’s life for years, and in many cases for generations. See how you can support our efforts below.
Driven by the vision that everyone needs a decent place to live, Habitat for Humanity has grown from a grassroots effort that began on a community farm in southern Georgia in 1976 to a global nonprofit housing organization in nearly 1,400 communities across the U.S. and in over 70 countries. People partner with Habitat for Humanity to build or improve a place they can call home. Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage. Through financial support, volunteering, or adding a voice to support affordable housing, everyone can help families achieve the strength, stability and self-reliance they need to build better lives for themselves. Through shelter, we empower.