Holcim to 3D Print 52 Houses in Kenya

RAPID

Share this Article

Swiss cement giant Holcim has announced that it will be launching the largest 3D printed house project in Africa with a 52-building housing complex in Kenya. Dubbed Mvule Gardens, the initiative will be pursued executed by 14Trees, a joint venture between Holcim and the UK’s development finance institution, the CDC Group.

Located in Kilifi, Kenya, Mvule Gardens is a part of the Green Heart of Kenya regenerative ecosystem and won IFC-EDGE Advanced sustainable design certification, for resource efficient and zero-carbon buildings. 14Trees is aimed at creating skilled local jobs while also addressing Africa’s affordable housing shortage. The U.S.- and Africa-based architecture firm MASS Design Group conceived of the Mvule Gardens design, with the idea of making homes that fit Kenya’s environment.

Holcim’s TectorPrint “ink”, designed for additive construction, is meant to print walls with the necessary structural integrity. Based on its project 3D printing a school in Malawi, Holcim claims that additive construction can cut the environmental footprint of a house by over 50 percent compared to traditional techniques. The walls can also be made in just 12 hours, which contrasts with the four days required with conventional methods.

Jan Jenisch, CEO Holcim: “We are excited to be building one of the world’s largest 3D-printed affordable housing projects in Kenya. With today’s rapid urbanization, over three billion people are expected to need affordable housing by 2030. This issue is most acute in Africa, with countries like Kenya already facing an estimated shortage of two million houses. By deploying 3D printing, we can address this infrastructure gap at scale to increase living standards for all.”

There are three home types in development, ranging from one-bedroom, 42-square-meter houses with a price of 2,436,000 Kenyan Shillings (~USD$21,600) to three-bedroom, 76-square-meter houses with a price of 4,484,000 KES (~USD$40,000).

The two-bedroom version of 14Trees’ 3D printed home. Image courtesy of 14Trees.

However, despite its purported goals of sustainability through 3D printing, Holcim has a carbon footprint about the size of Venezuela. This is due to the fact that cement production releases significant carbon dioxide, representing eight percent of global CO2 emissions. The company may be attempting to make progress in the right direction, but it may be that its additive construction projects represent more of an attempt at greenwashing than anything else. After all, concrete is the foundation of its business and, like an oil company that derives its profits from fossil fuels, there’s no financial incentive for it to eliminate its primary business.

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) that awarded Mvule Gardens an EDGE Advanced sustainable design certification for buildings that haven’t been constructed yet may not be that meaningful either. The World Bank’s IFC has been involved in REDD+ carbon trading schemes, which activists warn allows for companies and governments to protect or grow forests in one part of the world only to emit CO2 and cause environmental destruction elsewhere in ways that have a net negative impact on the planet.

The story comes just days after news that the company would cooperate in an investigation into the possible role of Holcim’s Syrian subsidiary, La Farge SA, in complicity in crimes against humanity by paying armed groups like the Islamic State to protect its staff in the region. This came soon after news that a worker was killed and five more were injured at Marwar cement plant in India, owned by Holcim subsidiary Ambuja cement. 14Trees’ CDC Group also may not have the proper human rights cred, as it invested in the Feronia Inc’s oil palm plantations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which was accused of human rights violations against local villagers. 3D printed buildings and other structures have the benefit of attracting a great deal of media attention that could play a role in drowning out any controversies that may be playing out.

Share this Article


Recent News

Europe’s New Rocket Set to Launch Polymer 3D Printing Technology into Space

Senators King and Collins Advocate 3D Printing Adoption for Department of Defense



Categories

3D Design

3D Printed Art

3D Printed Food

3D Printed Guns


You May Also Like

World’s Largest Polymer 3D Printer Unveiled by UMaine: Houses, Tools, Boats to Come

The University of Maine has once again broken its own record by unveiling the largest polymer 3D printer in the world. Surpassing its 2019 achievement, the new Factory of the...

Featured

Changing the Landscape: 1Print Co-Founder Adam Friedman on His Unique Approach to 3D Printed Construction

Additive construction (AC) is much more versatile than it seems, at first: as natural as it is to focus on the exciting prospect of automated home construction, there’s far more...

Featured

US Army Corps of Engineers’ Megan Kreiger on the State of Construction 3D Printing

Despite last year’s gloomy reports about the financial state of the additive manufacturing (AM) industry, there’s no doubt that we’re actually witnessing the birth of a sector rather than its...

Featured

Profiling a Construction 3D Printing Pioneer: US Army Corps of Engineers’ Megan Kreiger

The world of construction 3D printing is still so new that the true experts can probably be counted on two hands. Among them is Megan Kreiger, Portfolio Manager of Additive...