Swiss designer Yves Béhar has resolved to construct 3D-printed residences for the homeless.
In 1999, Béhar started Fuseproject, a company that fuses many distinct forms into a single functional design. Some of his more successful projects include One Laptop Per Child, which has empowered kids around the globe to own a laptop computer for about $100, and See Well to Learn Better, which employed Béhar-designed eyeglasses to supply Mexican children with light, durable, and ‘eye-catching’ eyewear for little cost. His designs permit young wearers to combine and match colors and styles, coming up with frames that are truly their own. This program has given out more than five million pairs of eyeglasses.
Now Béhar has set his ‘sights’ on New Story, a San Francisco social service organization creating solutions for the homeless problem. New Story CEO Brett Hagler and his team of 23 young people seek to approach the homeless issue in a novel and experimental way.
Unlike other homebuilding nonprofits, New Story invests—not only in building—but in research and development. To this end, New Story has partnered with ICON, a construction technologies company that uses 3-D printing as a building tool. Still, a third partner was needed to realise their philanthropic dreams. They asked Béhar to act as creative director for a 3D-printed home project.
Last summer, New Story and Béhar completed their first home community built with a 3-D printer in Latin America. Béhar predicts that this project will transform the lives of families for generations.
The technology of choice involves the delivery of a 3-D printer to a worksite to create a home in one day.
Put to use on-site, the 3-D printer constructs an exterior structure of dual cement walls, connected via a dense packing of zigzag lines. The only home components not 3D-printed take the form of the cement bases and rooftop. For the roof, the cement from the 3-D printer must be affixed to a solid form—a feat not yet possible with a 3D printer.
Béhar designed both the interior and exterior of the house, keeping functionality of space always in mind. The house, for example, boasts curvatures instead of corners to facilitate easy cleaning and mould prevention. Each of these houses will range from 430 to 590 square feet, in accordance with layout and family size. Families even should be able to add a second story sans a 3-D printer, to accommodate a growing family.
Hagler believes that everyone should have access to this type of homebuilding, yet each community who does so must cooperate with local families so that the homes will meet their needs. In some of these homes, for example, kitchens will be indoor or outdoor, and structures will differ to meet the needs of different families or communities. In all cases, 3D-printed homebuilding will be less expensive than conventional building methods.
New Story also has found success in the practice of constructing traditional homes for people in need, in the Caribbean and Latin America. Yet via its partnerships with ICON and Béhar, the company is set to write a new story in the book of philanthropic housing.