3-D Printed Canal House in Amsterdam

By Tim Hanrahan / Published by Dwell
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An in-progress 3-D printed house could impact the future of urban housing.

The ability to adapt to urban growth is becoming a necessary factor among housing projects, with half of the world's population now living in a city—an all-time high that is trending upwards. Amsterdam-based DUS Architects is exploring technological processes that would allow for faster, more affordable housing solution to accompany the trend and even usher in a new wave of architecture: 3-D-printed, multi-story buildings.

"Why a canal house? It's not only the ornament and facade; it's especially its program. It was always a place for trade, living, working, storage, and being open to the world," says Hans Vermeulen, DUS Architects co-founder. "We think 3-D printing can be the technique to provide good housing to billions of people on this planet." Photo courtesy DUS Architects.

DUS, in collaboration with Ultimaker, has developed a large 3-D printer called the KamerMaker, which translates to "Room Maker," and lives up to its name. The two by three-and-a-half meter, movable printer is capable of producing large, solidified forms out of a bioplastic hotmelt mix composed of 75% plant oil that can then be pieced together into one larger, multi-story form. 

"We think Kammermakers can be built around the globe to print solutions that can respond to local contexts, with local materials," says Vermeulen of the room-printing machine. Fellow co-founder Martine De Wit adds, "It's really research and design by doing. We continuously improve the design, which has an effect on the printer, which has an effect on the materials, which has an effect on the structure." Photo courtesy DUS Architects.

The first room, currently a three meter-high, 180-kilogram sample, is on track to be completed this summer. The entire site is open to the public to view the progress and welcome ideas. Among the visitors: President Barack Obama, during his spring visit to Amsterdam. "What we want to achieve with this project is to take production out of the factory and into the city, and show people that they can be a part of the production again," says DUS Architects co-founder Hans Vermeulen. 

DUS is also working on incorporating recycled plastics into a more sustainable, bio-based 3-D printing material that's made especially for larger scaled architecture. Photo courtesy of DUS Architects.

The canal house, a natural programmatic choice of variously functioned rooms aligned with the Amsterdam vernacular, will be under construction for the next three years as DUS methodically refines the building process.

"The rooms are first tested out on the small printers," says DUS Architects co-founder Hedwig Heinsman. "Once the file is completely finalized, we send it to the big printer. The technique in the small printer is the same as the big one so we can use the same files." Photo courtesy of DUS Architects.

The first room of the project, currently a three meter-high, 180-kilogram sample, is on track to be completed this summer, and the entire site is open to the public to view the progress and welcome ideas. Photo courtesy of DUS Architects.

Tim Hanrahan


Tim Hanrahan is from Chicago and an architecture graduate of the University of Minnesota with a minor in environmental design. In addition to architecture, he has a knowledge of the hip hop culture as the Co-Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Gowhere Hip Hop.

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