Innovations in Computer-Aided Architecture

The use of CAD architectural drafting has not only made architecture more efficient, it has helped innovate new ways of constructing buildings. In China and the U.S., architectural firms are using computer-aided design to test new methods for designing and constructing both high-end and low-income dwellings.

Chinese Company 3D Prints a Mansion and an Apartment Block

Earlier this year, Chinese construction company Winsun unveiled two impressive new structures that it had created via 3D printers: a mansion and a five-story apartment block. Both structures were created entirely with 3D printers, which were used to manufacture layers of material to form the buildings’ walls and ceilings. While Winsun had previously created one-story homes with 3D printers, both these new structures represent a remarkable step up in what can be accomplished through the combination of CAD and 3D printing.

Both buildings are currently on display side by side at an exposition site for visitors to inspect. The mansion is 11,840 square feet (1,100 square meters), stands two stories tall, and features balconies, stairways with ornate railing, and multiple windows that open outward. The apartment block is much more standard: four stories high, it has a red brick-colored surface for the top three stories, and a white marble color for the bottom, with six large windows per story (three on one side, and the other three on the opposite).

As for the building’s construction, the walls of both structures were created from layers of concrete that were laid on top of each other. The thin concrete slabs were created with giant 3D printers, which fabricated the materials based on computer models of the planned designs.

New York Architect Announces Plans for 3D Printed Estate

While Winsun’s accomplishments are surely noteworthy, New York architect Adam Kushner’s recently announced plans are far more impressive. Kushner, along with 3D printing expert Enrico Dini and his firm, D-Shape, is planning on creating an estate in upstate New York made from 3D printed materials. The estate will include not only a 2,400 square foot house house, but also a car port, a Jacuzzi, and a swimming pool.

Kushner has completed his computer designed plans for the estate, and hopes to have finished construction by 2017 (the pool and Jacuzzi are scheduled to be finished by the end of this year). The current plan is to construct the material for the estate on-site, using a giant 3D printer that is currently located in Italy, and which was partially funded by the Italian military for use in the creation of defense structures.

Not only will the materials for the building be created at the building site, but Kushner also plans on creating the building material from sand, gravel, and dust already at the location. By mixing those components with a magnesium-based binding agent, the 3D printer can create a substance that is described as being similar to marble, which can be formed into shapes unachievable even by other 3D printers.

Kushner isn’t just content to produce New York estates, either. If his planned methods prove viable and affordable enough, Kushner says that he hopes the building tactics he is pioneering could be used to create many structures that are not only built faster and cheaper, but are also of a higher quality. The system could then be used to create humanitarian structures, such as housing for refugees, and to repair infrastructure like bridges and piers.

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