There is often much talk of the potential benefits of using additive manufacturing to produce emergency housing for those in areas experiencing disaster, but seldom do we get to see these ideas manifest.
Citizens of the city of Merritt, British Columia, have recently experienced floods in their region and have (unfortunately) been given the opportunity to test such solutions.
Last year, heavy rains flooded the area displacing hundreds of residents from their homes and wreaking havoc on infrastructure. The entire city was evacuated pending the waters subsiding. When the water did finally back off, the slowly returning citizens were greeted by the devastation and the urgent need to rebuild.
While the city is slowly being repaired, residents know that it could take months before their homes are made liveable again, and so sought out a means to provide temporary homes in a short period of time. And so the topic of additive manufacturing was brought up, and deemed an appropriate solution to their housing problem.
Teaming up with University of British Columbia and Twente Additive Manufacturing, the city of Merritt plans to build 20x printed concrete homes with a printer they are purchasing from the company.
The city has raised funds via an online concert telethon which will take donations from the public to fund the purchase of the machine.
Twente has already built one 3D printed vacation home in British Columbia. While that particular project took 5 weeks to build, the company hopes that with their given printing rates they will be able to churn out 1 home per day for the homeless citizens.
“We generally can print about two metres tall in about six hours,” said Ian Comishin, president of Twente.
“So you can be doing a small shed or you could be doing an entire house, and you can be basically printing the entire thing in about a day. Communities that need housing quickly can get to have these robust structures potentially permanently installed in a very short timeframe.”
Once funds are raised, the city hopes to begin construction in April and have the citizens moved in (hopefully) shortly after.
In normal circumstances, the city would need to apply for various permits and other paperworks, but as they are working in partnership with the university, it is expected that the administrative side of things will be expedited.
All going well, with the fast-tracked paperwork and the infrastructural needs of the homes completed, citizens should be able to move into their temporary homes in September.
While it may seem to be a bit of a slow trek to getting people rehoused, once the process is refined, it will be deployable much faster in future. The city plans to reuse the homes as affordable housing once the temporary occupants have returned to their original homes.