For a long time, 3D construction printing has been seen as a possible solution to the escalating affordable housing crisis. Proponents of the technology claim, that when 3D printing projects in construction are carried out at scale, the advantages of the technology become clear. Evidence of that claim has been lacking, but recent developments actually provide credibility to the statement.
14Trees is a joint venture company between the cement and concrete giant Holcim and British International Investment dedicated to accelerating the provision of affordable housing in Africa. The joint venture is behind the first 3D printed houses in Africa and the first 3D printed schools in the world. This week 14Trees announced some of the initial results of their efforts to 3D print up to 52 houses in Kilifi, Kenya, using a single BOD2 printer from COBOD. The BOD2 is the world’s best-selling construction 3D printer. Following the start in October 2022, 14Trees completed the 3D printing of the walls of 10 houses in January 2023 after just 10 weeks using only one printer.
In addition, the project’s sustainability profile also attained an EDGE Advanced sustainable design certification by IFC, the World Bank’s development finance institution, which recognizes resource-efficient buildings with the potential to be zero-carbon. It is the first time a 3D printed housing project has attained this certification.
Commenting on the achievements, Francois Perrot, Managing Director of 14Trees said: “With 3D printing, you can solve two problems at once. You can build faster like we have shown here with our 10 houses in 10 weeks. At the same time, we can achieve better cost efficiency, which will help make affordable housing a reality for the majority. In addition, you can build with less materials, which preserves the resources of the planet for future generations.”
14Trees intends to get the full benefit of the large-scale project by experimenting and innovating as the project progresses. During the next phases which consist of 10-15 houses each, several innovations will be included that will allow future tenants to design their homes and move away from the standardized 3D printed approach to one which fully leverages the technology’s customization possibilities.
The cost of construction is also an area of focus. With each phase, 14Trees is aiming at lowering construction costs further such that the build cost is 20% lower than standard houses. Using Holcim’s proprietary 3D printing materials, TectorPrint, made at a local plant, has already meant a significant reduction in costs.
14Trees is not the only company busy with construction 3D printing projects of multiple housing units. Especially in the US several large-scale have been announced, including a venture-backed US-based construction 3D printing company’s 100 houses project, which attracted global media coverage when they began printing in early November 2022 (announced 2021) at a site where 5 or more identical printers were used simultaneously. As of early February, three months after the printing began, reports show that less than 9 houses had been printed so far. Commenting on the performance of 14Trees in relation to the developments in the US, Philip Lund-Nielsen, Head of COBOD Americas stated: “Considering how difficult the conditions are in Africa, it is impressive, that 14Trees has printed more houses on a single site, than any other construction 3D printing company in the US or elsewhere. In addition, they have done it faster, using just a single COBOD 3D printer not by using 5 printers or more”.
We are world leader in 3D construction printing solutions with +65 printers sold world-wide.
COBOD’s mission is to build smarter through multifunctional construction robots based on 3Dprinting technology and COBOD’s vision is to automate minimum 50% of construction processes on building sites. All leading to better, faster, cheaper and more sustainable construction than conventional concrete. We constantly strive to reduce the co2 footprint of 3D printed concrete.
COBOD’s 3D printers made Europe’s first building in 2017. Subsequently our printers made the first 2- and 3-story buildings in Europe (Belgium & Germany), North America (US & Canada) and India. Also, the first 3D printed villa in Dubai and buildings in Africa have been done by COBOD 3D construction printers, just like the first wind turbine bases.
COBOD has an open-source material strategy, partnering with customers, academic institutions, and suppliers around the world.
COBOD is privately owned by General Electric, CEMEX, Holcim and PERI as key shareholders, and our partners further include Dar Al Arkan (Saudi Arabia), L&T Construction (India), JGC (Japan), Siam Cement (Thailand) and Orascom (Egypt).
COBOD is headquartered in Denmark with regional offices and competence centers in Florida and Malaysia. Our team consists of +100 passionate pioneers from 25 nationalities and through our installed base of printers, we have a truly global presence in North- and Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia-Pacific.
Holcim builds progress for people and the planet. As a global leader in innovative and sustainable building solutions, Holcim is enabling greener cities, smarter infrastructure and improving living standards around the world. With sustainability at the core of its strategy Holcim is becoming a net zero company, with its people and communities at the heart of its success. The company is driving circular construction as a world leader in recycling to build more with less. Holcim is the company behind some of the world’s most trusted brands in the building sector including ACC, Aggregate Industries, Ambuja Cement, Disensa, Firestone Building Products, Geocycle, Holcim, Lafarge and Malarkey Roofing Products. Holcim is 70,000 people around the world who are passionate about building progress for people and the planet through four business segments: Cement, Ready-Mix Concrete, Aggregates and Solutions & Products.
A lot of smart and disruptive construction innovations exist today but they remain in the labs of large companies or start ups. 14Trees mission is to take these innovations to the field, optimize them, and scale them up. So that more African families can live, work and study in more decent, sustainable and affordable buildings.
14Trees is a joint venture company between Holcim, a global leader in sustainable construction solutions, and British International Investment, the UK Government’s impact investor.
14Trees pioneered in the introduction of Construction 3D printing in Africa. We delivered the first 3D printed house in Africa, and the first 3D printed school in the World.