The urban studio of architecture firm WATG and 3D-fabrication company Branch Technology have completed structural testing for what they say will be the world’s first “freeform” printed house. Completion of this validation process, performed in accordance with ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) standards, moves the 1,000-square foot demonstration project one step closer to reality. The design and fabrication team, which includes structural consultants Thornton Tomasetti and mechanical engineers Integral, expects to complete construction on a site at Chattanooga State Community College in Tennessee by early 2019.
The WATG scheme for the house, called “Curve Appeal” for its sinuous contours, was selected from 1,300 entries to a 2016 competition sponsored by Chattanooga-based Branch. The contest’s aim was to showcase the company’s 3D-printing technology, which differs from the usual additive manufacturing process. Instead of depositing layer on top of layer of printing medium, the company’s robot-controlled machines continuously extrude material in a cellular fashion, explains Platt Boyd, Branch CEO. “The printer almost grows the structure,” says Chris Hurst, design director of WATG’s Chicago office.