First 3D-printed affordable housing village could see the light of day in B.C.

Don McQuaid leads the international non-profit organization World Housing, which aims to end homelessness. Ian Comishin is the head of the 3D printing company Additive manufacturing Twente. Together, they harbor the dream of building a 3D-printed affordable housing village near Nelson, British Columbia, the first project of its kind in Canada. Funding, however, is pending.

You can imagine five Fibonacci houses heredescribe Ian Comishinstanding in the middle of a deforested field Protectnear Nelsonin the Kootenayhis region of origin.

Ian Comishin, chairman of Twente Additive Manufacturing, got into building 3D homes because he believes the printing technology can advance the industry.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Raluca Tomulescu

The Fibonacci house, designed and built by Twente Additive Manufacturing, is a concrete house designed by a 3D printer, with a curved structure, inspired by the mathematical sequence of the same name. The first and only copy of the company in Canada is located on the same land, a few hundred meters from what is to become the village of affordable housing.

The project, which already bears the name of Sakura Squareis intended to provide shelter for single mothers and their children. The idea is to have a healthy and safe place for them, but also cheaper than usual. In Nelson, it’s really expensive to rent nowExplain Ian Comishin. Each of the houses, with an area of ​​approximately 95 square meters (1000 sq.2), will have three bedrooms.

A 3D printed concrete house.

The first Fibonacci house in Canada, designed by Ian Comishin and his team, is in Procter, near Nelson, British Columbia. It can be rented on the Airbnb site.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Raluca Tomulescu

A more efficient construction technique

According to Ian Comishin3D home printing has the potential to spark a revolution in the construction industry, particularly when it comes to building affordable housing.

We are able to build houses much faster, for less money. »

A quote from Ian ComishinPresident, Twente Additive Manufacturing

He estimates that each house of Sakura Square would cost $400,000 to build. This is 15% to 20% less than a house built with traditional methods, according to him.

% de la valeur de la maison. Le reste des frais vient du plafond, du plancher, des tuyaux, des produits qui n’ont rien à voir avec le béton”,”text”:”Pour une maison de type Fibonacci, le travail d’imprimante c’est moins de 10% de la valeur de la maison. Le reste des frais vient du plafond, du plancher, des tuyaux, des produits qui n’ont rien à voir avec le béton”}}”>For a Fibonacci type house, the printer work is less than 10% of the value of the house. The rest of the cost comes from ceiling, floor, pipes, products that have nothing to do with concreteprecise Ian Comishin.

A large 3D printer in the center of a workshop.

This printer, dubbed Leonardo 1 by Twente Additive Manufacturing, is one of three on site at Procter. This is a robot prototype capable of printing large items.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Raluca Tomulescu

He foresees that the five dwellings will be printed almost entirely on the land which is to accommodate them, by moving one of the three printers which are already at Protect. The construction of each house would take between 10 and 14 days.

Beyond the social aspect, the project also includes a part of experimentation and learning. It’s going to be a validation to see if we can make a lot more [de maisons] with this technologyaffirms Ian Comishin.

Canadian athletes holding Canadian flags.

The Leonardo 1 printer is busy designing a panel to cover the facade of the workshop that houses it.

Managing to build more 3D houses for people in need is precisely what Don McQuaidthe general manager of Global housingheadquartered in Vancouver.

The organization funded a community of 10 3D-printed homes in Tabasco, Mexico, and is also responsible for finding funding for Sakura Squareone of his first projects in Canada.

We were focusing on developing countries, but with COVID-19, we realized that you can’t stay home if you don’t have a home.Explain Don McQuaid. The organization therefore decided to put its fundraising experience acquired abroad to the benefit of Canada, and partnered with Additive manufacturing Twente.

Don McQuaid seated at a table on a terrace.

Don McQuaid is the chief executive of the international organization World Housing, which has helped build housing projects in Haiti, El Salvador, the Philippines, Colombia, Mexico and Cambodia. Radio-Canada met him in Oliver, British Columbia.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Raluca Tomulescu

We really need to innovate in construction if we are to achieve our goal of a home for all. We wholeheartedly believe in the future of 3D printing. »

A quote from Don McQuaidgeneral director, Global housing

According to Don McQuaid3D home printers may in the future be moved to remote communities, such as in northern Saskatchewan or Manitoba. Entire villages could be built there in one summer thanks to this technology, according to him.

A 3D printed concrete house surrounded by plants and garden furniture.

World Housing has funded a community of 3D printed homes in Tabasco, Mexico.

Photo: Housing World

A path strewn with pitfalls

Even though Ian Comishin and Don McQuaid are convinced of the benefits of 3D printing technology in the construction of affordable housing, the culmination of Sakura Square is not guaranteed at this time.

The two project leaders say that in late January, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), a federal government corporation whose mission is to stabilize the housing market, rejected for a second times the request for Global housing to finance the project Sakura Square.

The printing of the five dwellings was supposed to start in April, regrets Ian Comishinwho admits that the technology is still little known in the construction industry.

The decision of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation also disappointed Don McQuaidwho hopes she gives as much importance to projects in rural areas, like Procter’s, as to those in urban areas.

The two men, however, do not give up. We’re still inspired, we’re still hoping to qualifyentrusts Don McQuaid. He still wants to work with the federal government on the project Sakura Squarebut points out that he is also looking for other donors to finance it.

Nevertheless, Ian Comishin and Don McQuaid still hope families can move in Sakura Square by the end of 2022.

An expensive process, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation neither confirms nor denies having refused the request for funding from Global housing.

To protect the confidentiality of our partners, information regarding applications, potential applications or potential projects cannot be made public until there is a signed agreement with a proponent.she wrote in an emailed statement.

She adds that most of the federal government’s National Housing Strategy (NHS) funding programs are application-based, and that she works with developers to ensure their applications are complete and ready to be filed. in order of priority when presented. It specifies that each application is evaluated on merit in accordance with the guidelines of the program applied for.

In the same statement, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation recognizes that 3D printing technology promises fast construction times, lower construction costs, better quality/durability and greener construction. However, she continues, the technology is still in the early stages of development, and there are several barriers, including cost.

According to the federal company, the technology is mainly used for low-volume, high-value coins, and it remains to be seen whether it will be possible to promote the adoption of the technology on a large scale to make the process less costly.

Finally, she pointed out that funding is available to applicants across the country, including in rural areas, although SNL“,”text”:”les promoteurs de projets en milieu rural et éloigné ne représentent qu’une petite partie du nombre total d’unités engagées dans le cadre de la SNL”}}”>rural and remote project proponents represent only a small portion of the total number of units engaged under the National Housing Strategy.

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