How should 3D printed buildings be maintained?

Greg Jasmin, principal and co-managing director of Syska Hennessy Group, discusses designing and maintaining MEP systems for Dubai’s 3D printed office

Greg Jasmin, Syska Hennessy Group.
Greg Jasmin, Syska Hennessy Group.

Did you face any challenges while designing MEP systems for Office of the Future?

The challenges were not that different in terms of design and selection of right MEP system. The coordination was more intense in terms of linking the 3D Revit drawing environment with all of the other disciplines.

We had constraints on height and how to penetrate the modules to bring in the required services. We had to figure all of this out before the modules could be printed and shipped because once there was no room to reset or undo them.

How must FM operators change their processes to suit the technical aspects of 3D printed buildings?

Since this is a first deployment, there’s still much to learn and understand about these structures. The fundamentals of maintenance will remain the same, but what makes this space interesting is that the guidelines and standards have yet to be written.

The industry will be developing these based on some of the early adoptors’ uses of 3D printing, such as Syska’s.

Do materials supplied for 3D buildings differ from those used for conventional buildings?

While we didn’t have to physically modify [existing] systems, we had to analyse our limitations and constraints and select the best options to meet the project’s requirements. It is really a team effort, especially when it comes to the aesthetics of the interior spaces and how to keep the client’s and architect’s vision intact.

Can the MEP systems in 3D buildings improve energy efficiency?

We used a variable refrigerant flow (VRF) system for this project, since it minimises or eliminates the need to use ductwork, thereby reducing efficiency losses. This system allows for multiple indoor units to be connected to an outdoor unit.

That they operate at various speeds allows for energy savings even at partial-load conditions. MEP systems are part of the overall narrative and push to maximise energy efficiency.

However, all disciplines have a role to play in this endeavor, from the type of glazing and insulation used in the building, to its orientation on the site to minimise solar gains. All are important to [maintain] the MEP systems as efficiently as possible.

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