While 3D printed homes are beginning to creep into the norm more and more, I don’t know that we’ll see a whole neighborhood of them anytime soon. But one thing that 3D printing is especially great at is constructing unique shapes and complex geometries, and because of this, we’ve seen plenty of interesting 3D printed one-off homes. The latest is a small but spiraling concrete creation by Twente Additive Manufacturing (TAM), inspired by the famous Fibonacci Sequence.
“In designing our first printed building we wanted to pay homage to the beauty found in nature while also showcasing the flexibility of the additive manufacturing methods of 3DCP,” Twente wrote on its website about the house.
Discovered by Italian mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci, the Fibonacci sequence is made by adding numbers, starting from 0 and 1, so that each is the sum of the two numbers before it. These sequences were used a lot in Renaissance architecture, and also show up naturally in the world, such as pinecones, or how the petals on a flower are arranged. Interestingly, if you tile square shapes with side lengths that are successive Fibonacci numbers (1, 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 13, 21, and so on), you’ll form a spiral that’s similar to what’s called the “golden ratio” if you connect the opposite corners of the squares with circular arcs.
Twente is currently working on the Fibonacci House near its British Columbia headquarters, and used its Laticrete Mortar M68 concrete 3D printers to build the house. However, the company did not print the entire house in one piece like many try to do; instead, it was divided into 20 printable parts. Once these parts were printed, they were shipped to Canada for assembly.
Two classes of 3D printing mortar were used, one that dries slowly and is strong enough to support the layers on top before the part is fully cured, and a fast-drying one with an added drying accelerant. This second mortar, described as more of a “concrete-based glue,” is what allows Twente to bridge the gaps between parts and print overhangs. This is the company’s first full-scale building, though it live-streamed the large-scale 3D printing of concrete formwork last year, and its Fibonacci House is meant to show off what its 3D printers are capable of, in addition to showing the world a new way to build homes that decreases material consumption.
All of the parts were 3D printed off-site in a controlled environment, so that the printers could keep working 24/7 in a protected environment. In comparison to on-site construction, prefab construction is typically much more eco-friendly for a number of reasons, such as less noise, dust, and site disturbances generated by the process. In addition, the materials are stored out of the weather, each piece is precision-cut for less waste, and it normally takes much less time to build.
Twente’s 3D printed Fibonacci House has a pretty compact footprint, but there’s enough room at the top for a loft so that four people can comfortably sleep inside. None of the walls are load-bearing on their own, but the exterior is held up by a combination of shear walls and columns, and each 3D printed piece is dual-layered for more thermal insulation. The house is not quite done, but I’m looking forward to seeing pictures of the completed project in its entirety.
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