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This 3D-printed concrete house is surprisingly stylish—and sustainable

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3D Housing 05 was printed on site at the Piazza Cesare Beccaria in Milan

A concrete home with curving walls and a flat roof with overflowing plants sits under a canopy in a plaza.
The 1,000-square-foot concrete home was 3D-printed on site in Milan.
Courtesy of 3D Housing 05

In Milan, at the Piazza Cesare Beccaria, a 100-square-meter (or about 1,000 square feet) concrete house holds court. Featuring a curved silhouette and a flat roof overflowing with plants, there’s something else that’s striking about the structure: Its ridged and textured walls were entirely 3D-printed on site by a robotic manipulator on a moveable base and constructed in the span of one week

Massimiliano Locatelli, of CLS Architetti, collaborated with Italcementi Heidelberg Cement Group, Dutch construction company CyBe Construction, and Arup to design and bring to life 3D Housing 05, a prototype of a 3D-printed concrete home created in response to the growing affordable housing crisis.

Currently on display at the Salone del Mobile design festival, 3D Housing 05 features a living area, bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom made from 35 modules, each of which took between 60 to 90 minutes to print, with the full house effectively taking 48 hours to complete.

In the prototype, striated composite walls are put in relief by the sleek brass window casements and door frames, marble bath fixtures, smooth plaster of a possible wall finish, and the polished brass sheets making up the kitchen counters, showcasing the possibility that though 3D-printed homes may appear crude on the outside, they can certainly be beautiful on the inside.

More importantly, however, are the sustainable and adaptive possibilities that a 3D-printed building allows for. 3D Housing 05 focuses on five key principles: creativity, sustainability, flexibility, affordability, and rapidity. Not only can the house be expanded outward, it can also be built upward to incorporate another floor, for example, or even moved to another location.

Being made from concrete, it can also be demolished, pulverized, and reconstructed with the same composite material, a mixture of cementitious powders, binders, and aggregates, which itself can come from local soil. This process also radically reduces the cost of construction, opening up the possibility of building much needed housing for many of the world’s poorest population in a short span of time.

3D Housing 05 may be the first of its kind in Europe, but 3D-printed structures have been cropping up all across the globe, from Austin, Texas, to Russia to China.