3D printed school – an innovative, sustainable and humanitarian solution

After Holcim-CDC with the venture 14Trees, has launched the world’s first 3D concrete printed school, taking only 18 hours to build the walls and using 70% fewer materials than traditional building techniques (click here to read more), now is the time for another project with the aim to accelerate the production and commercialization of environmentally-friendly, affordable construction solutions in Africa.

The futuristic project of an inexpensive and fast 3D printed school in Madagascar is about to be realized. It demonstrates the infinite possibilities of 3D Printing to enable more sustainable, faster and effective building structures, without compromise on aesthetics and functionality.

3D printing is also proving useful in international cooperation, for example, to address the need to create educational spaces in parts of the world where there are not enough resources to create a ‘traditional’ school. In this regard, thanks to the initiative of an NGO, the world’s first 3D printed school is about to be built in Madagascar.

Madagascar – step towards building a sustainable future

The NGO leading the project is called Thinking Huts, a non-profit organization that uses innovative and humanitarian technological solutions to bridge the global opportunity gap. The project will be carried out by the Mortazavi Architecture Firm, which has offices in San Francisco and Lisbon and will build a 3D printed school on the campus of EMIT University in Fianarantsoa, a city in the south-central area of Madagascar.

The NGO had considered as many as 7 countries for this first step. After several months of research and consideration, due to the immense need for infrastructural support for education in the county of Madagascar, it was chosen as the first location for the pilot test. Madagascar’s fairly new stable political climate is being looked at as an opportunity for growth. The NGO is optimistic that it will open up many more doors for the betterment of the local community.

What can be expected in the 3D printed school?

The building will have a modular design similar to a honeycomb, with rooms connected as needed. It will start with only one environment for the school, and subsequently, others can be inserted and connected to the main structure. Each room will be designed as an open space with two entrances, two bathrooms, a closet, windows and custom-designed passive ventilation close to the ceiling.

The construction is forecasted to be a perfect marriage of advanced manufacturing technologies and the local native culture and style. The walls will be made up of layers of a special cement mixture that releases fewer emissions, while the roof, doors, and windows will be locally sourced. The whole structure will still be much cheaper as compared to the costs of conventional methods.

What does the Man-of-the-Hour have to say?

A further advantage concerns the speed of realization times.

“We can build these schools in less than a week”

Including the foundation and all the electrical and plumbing work that is involved, architect Amir Mortazavi said.

The printer will be made available by a Finnish company specializing in 3D printing solutions for reinforced concrete, Hyperion Robotics, which will leave the tool with the local university so that schools can continue to be built with this technique in other parts of the country. Indeed, the initiative aims to become a model for other similar institutions across the continent and beyond.

Read more about 3D printing technology: Striatus, 3d printed masonry footbridge in Venice

“We want to use this first school as a case study, so once finished and put into operation, we can think of extending the project to other countries around the world and train local technicians to be specialized in the use of the 3D printer who can become autonomous and can build schools on their territory, ” said Mortazavi.

The pilot project, therefore, will start from the African island. Still, the goal is to extend this new building construction concept in a faster, cheaper and more sustainable way to other developing countries.

At the Swiss Institute for disruptive innovation, we understand the need for making sustainable, eco-friendly infrastructure available in countries like Madagascar. Their need for quality education and infrastructure will open doors for many more economies to start on the path of development based on innovation.

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