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Leaders UAE 2017: Can 3D printing change how we build?

by Neha Bhatia on Sep 24, 2017

Ben Piper (above) is principal and partner at Killa Design.
Ben Piper (above) is principal and partner at Killa Design.

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Killa Design's Ben Piper on how Dubai’s 3D-printed Office of the Future was developed...

While it is “a small project in terms of its footprint”, Dubai’s 3D-printed Office of the Future is a landmark development, thanks to the possibilities it opens up for the UAE’s construction industry. These were the views of Ben Piper, principal and partner at Killa Design, the company that provided detailed architectural design services for the 3D-printed structure. 

Piper delivered a presentation outlining the major design and technological elements that were considered during the development of the building, which was unveiled this May.  

Asserting that 3D printing makes for “really interesting possibilities from a construction perspective, but also from a sustainability and economic point of view”, Piper added: “The machine is pretty simple – it moved in the ‘X’, ‘Y’, and ‘Z’ pattern, printing out semi-liquid concrete that has stability to hold shape as it sets. 

“One of the differences is that with precast, you get homogenous concrete structures, but because [3D-printed concrete] is laid down in layers, you get a ribbed effect [on the structure]. The structural behaviour is also different from in-situ concrete.”

Cassette-shaped structures were 3D printed for the office, and this led to a design challenge for Killa Design, which was tasked with master-planning the site according to the printed structures. 

To avoid creating “one continuous tube of office space”, Killa scattered the cassette-shaped structures’ placement in a way that would allow the spaces to be naturally lit, and add to the project’s overall design. 
“There are certain elements within architecture and design – such as the quality of space and light, the views, security, and durability – that are eternal,” Piper explained. 

“These are the eternal requirements of design, but technology is allowing them to be delivered in a different way. It’s important that we don’t lose sight of what makes good design.”