europebuilding_02As humanity becomes more aware of the damage we’re doing to the environment, we are scrambling to find ways to fix it. There are more recycling options than ever before; nearly everything man-made can be recycled, if you know where to look. I bet you never considered recycling an entire building, however. That’s what the Dutch are planning to do, though, as soon as their tenure in the presidential seat of the Council of the European Union comes to an end in June.

Leadership of the Council of the European Union operates on a rotating schedule, with each member country taking over the presidency for six months at a time. The Netherlands took over the presidency from Luxembourg on January 1, and will hold it until June 30, at which point Slovakia will step in. The Dutch needed a venue from which to conduct business during their presidential tenure, and rather than wasting the resources on a building that would only be used for a short while, they constructed a temporary office that will be torn down and recycled at the end of June.

europebuilding_06The Europe Building sits in front of the National Maritime Museum in Amsterdam. It was designed to complement its backdrop, with an unusual structure that resembles a small square building being enfolded by sails. It’s eye-catching and unique, and a large part of it was 3D printed with bioplastic that will be shredded and recycled when the structure is dismantled this summer. Environmental sustainability was a major consideration in the design of the building, which is fully equipped with meeting spaces and press facilities. It features solar panels, as well as water taps to discourage the use of bottled water. The interior furnishings will be reused in public sector buildings once the Europe Building is torn down.

europebuilding_04The 3D printed entryway was designed by DUS Architects, an Amsterdam architectural firm currently working on another 3D printed building: a full-sized, 3D printed canal house. The Canal House Project is a three-year endeavor bringing together multiple partners from various sectors and countries to demonstrate 3D printing’s capabilities in architecture through the construction of a traditional Amsterdam canal building. The walls are being constructed with a KamerMaker XXL 3D printer, which was developed by DUS specifically for the project, and which was also used to print the blue benches which sit between the folds of the “sail” draped over the Europe Building.

The KamerMaker (“room builder”) XXL printer is capable of printing objects up to 2m x 2m x 3.5m. The blue benches, which were designed with geometric shapes intended to represent the countries of the European Union, mark the XXL’s public debut: according to DUS, this is “the first time in the world that these kinds of XXL 3D prints have been shown in the public domain.” The benches, like the entryway, are made from a recyclable bioplastic that DUS developed.

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The Europe Building project, according to DUS, was a “commercial spin-off” of the Canal House, featuring contributions from several of the project’s partners. Actual, an Amsterdam-based startup, contributed to the parametric development and 3D printing of the structure, and additional collaboration came from Neptunus, Tentech, Philips, Henkel and Heijmans. The Netherlands, in the first week of its presidency, has gotten off to a good start. The Europe building shows the world the possibilities that 3D printing provides for architecture, as well as overall sustainability.  Discuss this story in the 3D Printed Building forum on 3DPB.com.

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