Wood Fibre-based Building: Innovative Architectural Applications of 3-D Printing for Prefabricated Housing Production

By Oliver Neumann and Rodrigo Cepeda.

Published by The International Journal of the Constructed Environment

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Canada is known globally as a supporter of humanist causes and as a world leader in timber building and research. The country is well positioned to respond to natural disasters with the production and installation of innovative disaster housing. Innovations in the production and installation of disaster housing, however, can not only improve the quality of short-term housing interventions but can form a basis for long-term housing solutions sensitive to a particular cultural context. Recent developments in digitally-controlled design and fabrication technologies provide a basis for the rethinking of the design and assembly process of houses and facilitate the improvement of the quality of disaster response housing. Parallel to developments in wood-fibre research, 3-D printing offers opportunities to create pre-fabricated housing components for high-performance house designs as a response to natural disasters and as a basis for housing developments. As a wood-fibre based building technique, housing developed through the exploration of 3-D printing technologies provides opportunities for the application of Canadian research expertise, industrial capacities and natural resources.

Architectural applications of additive 3-D printing technologies can be associated with the development of pre-fabricated housing in the Chile. Responses to Chilean disasters need to be coordinated with long-term social housing developments. In connection with Chile and responses to the 2010 tsunami and related housing requirements, 3-D printing using wood fibre-based materials and general advantages of pre-fabrication in relation to off-site production in controlled environments can make a significant contribution to the rebuilding of lost housing stock. Time and cost-saving installation methods and independence from natural conditions at the site play an important role in applications of pre-fabricated housing types. Conceptual references for 3-D printing in architecture as well as practical considerations for the application for 3-D printing are significant references. Structural performance, environmental features and the efficiency of the design, fabrication and construction process also play an important role in the consideration of 3-D printing with wood fibre. 3-D printing of housing components can also affect Canadian disaster response designs and offer a significant market for Canada wood products.

Keywords: Wood Fibres, Disaster Response, 3-D Printing, Prefabrication

The International Journal of the Constructed Environment, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp.57-72. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 973.634KB).

Oliver Neumann

Associate Professor, School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Oliver Neumann is an Associate Professor at the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. He is also an Associate Chair of Wood Building Design and Construction at UBC. Oliver Neumann holds a professional degree in architecture from the Technical University in Berlin, Germany, and a Masters in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University in New York. His research focuses on the role of digital technology in the building process and in broader speculations of emerging material culture. Oliver Neumann explores contemporary fabrication technologies, mass-customization processes, and their implications for design concepts, design methodology, and construction processes. His research includes design-build projects.

Rodrigo Cepeda

Master in Advanced Studies in Architecture Program, School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Rodrigo Cepeda is an architect from the Catholic University of Chile. In the Faculty of Architecture of the Catholic University of Chile, he teaches the Building and Technology course. He is also a researcher and architect of prototypes of the Timber Research and Development Centre of the same university. Special interests in his research are the space innovation and energy efficiency of emergency and social housing solutions. Parallel to his academic career, as an independent architect, he has developed several design-build house projects.