The Space Maker
Let’s say you’ve bought yourself a loft apartment—congratulations!—and you’re looking to separate the sleeping area from the rest of the space. You could put up a screen, a bookshelf, or some other DIY room divider, or you could hire workers to come in and build a wall. Soon, however, 3-D printing may afford another, better option for these kinds of medium-scale interior constructions.
Thanks to a grant from a French nonprofit called VIA, the Paris-based designers François Brument and Sonia Laugier recently built a prototype room divider that packs in an impressive range of functions. Called Printed Habitat, it includes built-in bookshelves, a small closet and changing area, and even a shower stall. The prototype was 3-D printed in manageably sized blocks that can be assembled on-site using rods and bolts. “It’s like a big Lego that you can build by yourself inside your home,” Brument says.
Easy installation is one perk. Another is customization. Because Printed Habitat was designed using 3-D modeling software, Brument and Laugier can easily tweak the specifications for each interior. “Everything is parametric,” Brument says. “So, for example, if you change the width of the shower blocks, the shower floor will automatically adjust.”
Printed Habitat is not quite ready for the marketplace, however. The design is intended for concrete, but the prototype had to be made in polycarbonate while its German manufacturer, voxeljet, researches concrete formulations that will work with its 3-D printers. More vexing is the business model; Brument says that France lacks facilities that can do these kinds of 3-D printing jobs on demand.
Even if these problems are solved, the final product will not be cheap. Brument estimates that the concrete for one Printed Habitat would cost about $32,000. But he argues that this is not unreasonable: “For sure, the material to start might be a bit more expensive, but then you will have something that perfectly fits your home and that will be unique based on your needs.”