Today, over an hour into an episode of the Automate Construction Podcast with Peter-Paul Van Der Berg and Marijke Aerts I realized it was not recording because I was signed into the wrong email address when I sent out the invitation to the meeting. After noticing this I was able to turn on QuickTime screen capture which could only record my screens visuals not the audio, I used my phone to record the meetings audio from my laptop and tried to sync up the sound. I will try to recount the missing details from the first portion of our conversation because it was a terrific eye opening experience for me and I’d like to share it.
The Kamp C team and its critical partners have 3D printed the first multi story house in Europe, specifically in Antwerp, Belgium. This was a showcase project meant to demonstrate the possibilities and practicality of 3D printed construction techniques. Peter-Paul said the printing of the house went off without a hitch and there were not big issues to be resolved which is incredible considering this house is the first of its kind in Europe.
The house printed in Belgium was done without any rebar or internal supports besides the printed concrete and the insulating foam. The interior wall and exterior wall of the building are completely separated with no bridging to maintain the best insulating properties. Many people have requested Kamp C build them a model of the house but Kamp C is not a typical construction company and they are primarily in the pursuit of exploring new technologies and strategies related to construction.
There is a newer project in Belgium for a recreational space that will be 3D printed that Kamp C has been assisting with. The number of projects in this space will increase over the coming years, one group plans on printing 7 units in Belgium by 2023.
Kamp C is not your typical construction company, they are funded in part by the local government in the pursuit of innovation and sustainability. They are working on building commercial buildings with ‘circular’ construction which means that over the course of multiple decades they will build 4 buildings, one at a time and after the life of the first one has expired it will be deconstructed and the materials from the first building will be used to rebuild the last, if the project is successful the parts from the other buildings will be reused many times over as well.
They also gave a really interesting example of what differentiates their strategies from traditional construction companies. In the circular building project they want to lease out the products of certain construction trades like windows and lighting so that the contractor is responsible for the life of the project not just the deliverable on the last day the final punch list is closed out. This strategy is being implemented in order to change the way construction is perceived and keep investors from cutting corners in order to get the job done quickly or cheaply when there are better long term solutions available.
It was very unique that an organization tied to the government was willing to hop on this podcast with me. One thing they mentioned is that when someone comes to them with an idea, first they say yes and then they figure out how to get it done. This open minded attitude and entrepreneurial spirit is what seems to drive Kamp C toward the unprecedented type projects they tend to work on. Governments can sometimes regulate and impede markets but by supporting Kamp C Belgium has made it clear they are dedicated to exploring cutting edge solutions. Belgium will see an advantage when these construction techniques catch on and they already have some experience.