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Softkill's intricate 3D printed ProtoHouse is all about the plastic


February 19, 2013

Softkill Design's ProtoHouse 1.0 (Image: Softkill Design)

Softkill Design's ProtoHouse 1.0 (Image: Softkill Design)

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London-based architecture team Softkill Design has entered the race to create the first 3D printed house. Unlike the first plans for 3D-printed houses that emerged at about this time last year, Softkill thinks that the future of 3D printed housing lies in prefabricated components rather than printing houses whole using vast uber-printers on site. By using plastics rather than sand or concrete, Softkill may just have hit upon a concept that actually feels... 3D printery.

To date, Softkill has printed one "ProtoHouse" prototype to demonstrate its concept. Built in 2012, ProtoHouse 1.0 was a 1:33 scale model which showed not only the imaginative, detailed forms that high-resolution 3D printing with plastics could offer, but also demonstrated how a full-sized version might work. ProtoHouse 1.0 was made from 30 pieces that could be assembled into a single form without the use of adhesive.

The seemingly entwined fibers that make up ProtoHouse 1.0 are each just 0.7 mm (0.03 in.) thick. The prototype is unlike others we've previously seen, which have tended either to resemble simple adobe shelters, or emulated contemporary forms.

The emerging conversation about 3D printed housing has seemingly, deliberately or otherwise, paid lip service to historic architectural methods and traditions, forms and materials. Softkill's ProtoHouse 1.0 looks like the dwelling you'd come up with if you swept all that aside, and focused on the 3D printer itself. It looks like what an orb-weaving spider might come up with if they started hanging out at the Bartlett School of Architecture (and, in a sense, orb spiders sort of are an autonomous 3D printer, even if they do tend to work in two dimensions).

Perhaps it's because Softkill seems to be thinking about the problem in a new way that, with ProtoHouse 1.0, it proposed printing all the fixtures and fittings from staircases to furniture as part of the structure.

For ProtoHouse 2.0, Softkill is upping the ante by developing a small 4 by 8 meter (13 by 26 foot) building comprised of "7 big chunks of laser-sintered plastic" which fit inside the bag of a Ford Transit. Putting them together will apparently take half a day, again requiring no adhesive or screws. Talking to Dezeen, Softkill's Gilles Retsin said they hoped to have printed and assembled ProtoHouse 2.0 in the UK's summertime.

Arguably Softkill's closest rival in developing the first 3D printed house is Universe Architecture, though Retsin pointed out to Dezeen that, strictly speaking, Universe's Möbius strip-like Endless House won't be wholly 3D printed, requiring the pouring of concrete on site.

We're excited to see what Softkill comes up with in the coming months.

Source: Softkill, via Dezeen

About the Author
James Holloway James lives in East London where he punctuates endless tea drinking with freelance writing and meteorological angst. Unlocking Every Extend Extra Extreme’s “Master of Extreme” achievement was the fourth proudest moment of his life. All articles by James Holloway

I agree, it looks like something that one would see in the Aliens movie. It looks creepy and cool at the same time. I guess if an orb spider went to archeticture school, this might be what it came up with. :)


Yipes, this looks like the nest from Aliens!

Edwin Austin

It isn't often that you see truly inspired architecture. This is stunning!


Astoundingly self indulgent. Might make a good sci-fi set.

If there's a useful idea in all of this, the provided wisps of a cocoon utterly fail to communicate what it is. If it rains,or cold winds blow, the structure as shown would provide no shelter.


Dusting would be a monumental undertaking...

John McMullen

I would live in a structure like this if it helped with re-purposing Plastic Products; Especially the Soda & Bottle " 6 Pack" Loops of Plastic that kill so much sealife.

Karen Lee
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