Denmark-based COBOD announced a deal to 3D print dozens of homes in Kenya.
COBOD will be supplying their powerful BOD2 construction 3D printer, a device capable of extruding concrete in multi-story layers. Their partner in the Kenyan project is 14Trees, a joint venture between construction giant Holcim and CDC Group.
14Trees is a familiar name, as that group previously 3D printed a home in Nairobi using COBOD technology. This home apparently served as a pilot for the new project, as the design and technology were approved to proceed based on the previous success.
The new project involves 3D printing no less than 52 affordable homes in the beach town of Kilifi, Kenya, which is situated on the Indian Ocean. The town has a thriving tourist business with a number of notable resorts in the area.
When complete, I imagine tourists from the beach resorts might be able to see some of these 3D printed buildings, which are to be located in the Mvule Gardens area of Kilifi.
My suspicion during the first project was that 14Trees used the initial buildings as pilots to gauge the effectiveness of the technology and process, and that we may see a much larger project emerge later. That seems to have happened, as this project is indeed a far larger project.
14Trees CEO Francois Perrot said:
“After our initial success in Malawi with using 3D printing for making Africa’s first 3D printed buildings, we wanted to take the next step and to bring scale to what we are doing. The Nairobi house was made as a demonstration for the decision makers and paved the way for the project in Kilifi, where we will be doing 52 similar houses”
The project hopes to help overcome Africa’s increasingly deepening housing crisis, and do so with less energy and CO2 emissions using the COBOD technology. The homes will also be very long lasting due to their concrete construction material.
COBOD said this venture “will be one of the biggest 3D construction projects in the world”, and this is likely true. Competitor ICON is to 3D print 100 residential units in Austin, Texas next year, and that is the only other construction 3D printing project I’m aware of that is larger than the Kilifi project.
With the announcement of this project, we may be shifting into a new phase of construction 3D printing. Up until this year virtually all construction 3D printing projects were experimental or simply demonstrations. Most produced buildings that were not certified by authorities for occupancy.
That’s changed this year, as there have indeed been certifications and actual occupancies. The other big change is the emergence of larger, multi-unit projects from at least two companies in the space. I suspect this is only the beginning, as more construction companies discover the advantages of 3D print technology. Money talks, and if the tech is indeed less expensive, we may soon see many more projects of this type.