SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- A couple of months ago, Dutch architect Janjaap Ruijssenaars announced that he was building a curvy, loopy and for some reason, largely see-through building, to be made with the help of Enrico Dini’s D-Shape 3D printer. The project would cost up to 5 million euros ($6.4 million) and be completed in 2014.
Another group quickly piped up, declaring that a similar project they were working on would be done even faster and cheaper. London-based Softkill Design intends to fabricate a web-like building and what’s more, it says it will need just three weeks to print the structure—and only a single day to assemble it, which it plans to do at some point later this year.
This month, another Dutch company jumped into the fray. DUS Architects plans to use a 20-ft-tall 3D printer to build a house along an Amsterdam canal. It’s also going to do it by the end of the year. Take that, Ruijssenaars.
3d house-printing—it certainly sounds like a brilliant idea. Why bother hiring masons and carpenters and plumbers when you can buy a machine and print out your own abode? Goodbye, apartment blocks. Hello, homemade homes.
But what does this 3d house-printing actually mean? And if it’s so groovy, how come no one has done it yet?
How it works
First, the basics: Simply put, 3D printing works through a process of layering. The printer reads a file, much as a deskjet would read an image, and then translates that into a physical object the way your printer spits out ink on a page—one strip at a time.
The “ink” in a 3D printer is a material—often plastic—that shoots out of a nozzle and onto a platform. If a printer is making a coffee mug, for instance, it will gradually layer up a ring until it reaches the top. You could call it a bottom-up process.
But you would never want to print a coffee mug, not even a silly one. For the moment, the cool thing about the technology is that it’s better suited to protoyping shapes rather than reproducing existing ones. Plus, gift shops the world over have shown us that novelty mugs are always a bad idea.
Say you were a design enthusiast, though, and wanted to make a chair in an unconventional form. With a 3D printer, that would cost the same to produce as the sort of vanilla chairs you pick up at Ikea. That’s because 3D printers don’t constrain the imagination with mundane restrictions like molds, human labor or cost. If you can dream it—and get a design for it—you can print it. It gives designers the freedom to imagine all sorts of kooky things in much the same way that advances in printing equipment freed graphic artists from the tyranny of Things get tricky when it comes to large-scale projects, such as houses. The most obvious problem is one of scale. Just as you cannot print a billboard on a laserjet that can, at most, accept A3 sheets, you can’t print a entire house on existing 3D printers.
Building a bigger printer is not the answer. A skyscraper would require a machine that is bigger than it. And as printers get bigger, there is a trade-off between resolution and speed, says Steven Keating, a graduate student who works on large-scale 3D printing with Neri Oxman, an architect, designer and academic in theMediated Matter group of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab.
“You’re printing in finite-size layers,” Keating tells Quartz. “Imagine doing it with toothpaste. The thickness of that toothpaste is basically the resolution of your product. Every time you make that layer smaller, thinner, you increase the time it takes.”
Ruijssenaars is getting around these problems by building in bits and then putting them together on-site. Keating and Oxman have something similar in mind for their own 3D-printed building project. Like Ruijssenaars, they will print shells to later be filled in with concrete on the inside and be sanded down to look finished on the outside.
Softkill disapproves of these methods, dismissing concrete-filled structures as impure applications of 3D printing. While its house will also be printed in parts and assembled later, the company says it will be entirely 3D-printed with a light, plastic material. Its web-like configuration will make it strong enough to bear loads.
Printing with swarms
There are other ideas too. The MIT group is experimenting with fitting its printer on a truck to increase its footprint. It is also looking into using “swarms” of 3D printers to work on different bits of a structure.
But if it’s so much trouble, why bother printing houses when building them with lumber or bricks and mortar has served humanity’s needs for hundreds of years? There are three key benefits. The first is that 3D printing is cheaper. As a design becomes more complex, the cost of 3D printing drops substantially relative to traditional building methods.
It is also safer for both the people building the houses and for those living in them. Structures with curves are stronger. Pillars with greater density towards their edges are sturdier. And fewer construction workers means fewer injuries and deaths (though it also means fewer jobs).
But perhaps the best part about 3D-printing houses is that it lets architects dream up all sorts of fantastic structures that would be either too difficult or too expensive to make with conventional methods. A 3D-printed house wouldn’t need to conform to our traditional ideas of what a home looks like (which makes DUS Architects’ design look rather unadventurous). Indeed, that would be to miss the point.
It’s what architects like Frank Gehry and Le Corbusier first imagined possible with concrete, except that 3D printing has the potential to be several orders of magnitude cheaper, easier and more efficient.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Palestinian architect Naseer Arafat has dedicated much of his life and work to the restoration and preservation of buildings in the occupied West Bank city of Nablus. Last year, his extensive research and work came to fruition as Nablus, City of Civilizations, an impressive and extensive architectural and historical survey of the ancient city.
Through twelve detailed units, the book describes Nablus’ long history, from the Canaanite era to the second intifada, when many of its historical buildings were demolished or damaged during the Israeli invasion. Historical photographs, maps and building plans describe the many architectural treasures of the city. Beyond this, through oral stories, Arafat includes a social history that breathes life into the city as it exists today.
Published in Nablus by the Cultural Heritage Enrichment Center, the book is available in Arabic and English. Arafat recently spoke to The Electronic Intifada contributor Daryl Meador.
Daryl Meador: Can you speak a little bit about your history and relationship with Nablus and architecture?
Naseer Arafat: It’s the city where I live; I was born here. The relationship with architecture was built by the stories I got from my parents. They lived in a big house, 675 square meters, three floors; it was demolished by the British in 1938. So not only my parents, but my aunts and uncles from both sides were all living together in that house. My aunt, whenever the house was mentioned, she would sadly remember the moment when, with her hair wet, she was tossed out of the house into the street, and the British blew it up.
Also, my father’s uncle all the time spoke about the visitors who would come to the house because he was selling costumes and clothes out of it. Visitors would stay in the guest part of the house for three days, fed and hosted.
So that memory of the place, of the building, made me always imagine the size of the house and the situation of my family in it. I sadly connected this with loss, especially because where I live now is in a house that is in the garden of the old house. The old house is partially now a garden and partially a street where I used to walk every day. I would imagine which part of the house I was walking on. So that was the passion towards an ancient house and what it meant to my family.
I studied architecture at Birzeit, and volunteered to bring visitors to the university on tours in Nablus. After that I worked as an architect responsible for the national register of historical buildings in Palestine. This enabled me to discover Nablus as a treasured place with an urban fabric, with monuments. This was not known to me before. The more I worked in the city, walked through the alleys and streets, I discovered the richness of it.
Then as I worked, I decided I would write something about the city. I started collecting data and photographs, maps — whatever I could collect on the city.
DM: What kind of resources did you use?
NA: At that time I went to the Rockefeller museum in Jerusalem and saw documents and old photos of Nablus. Later I went to study restoration at York University and I visited what is called the Palestine Exploration Fund, which is a small association off Oxford Street in London. There I found huge old photographs of Nablus printed on glass.
I managed to collect unique photographs from the Ecole Biblique in Jerusalem, which is the French antiquities school. I managed to collect photos from Istanbul, the archive of the Sultan Abd al-Hamid II, from Berlin, the antiquities department and the Mandate Museum in London. At all these places I could find old photos of Nablus and use some for the book.
I also collected family photos. From some families you have photos of their houses and there was an Austrian researcher who came to Nablus in ‘96, and took photos of all of the houses in Nablus. So I managed to find some photos of houses destroyed by the Israelis in 2002. This was very emotional for the people whose houses were lost.
Two soap factories which were demolished, I managed to find photos of these as well. And by chance I was able to survey one factory before it was demolished, so its plan and façade are in the book.
DM: Does the book discuss the Israeli invasion and destruction?
NA: Yes it does. What the Israelis are doing to Nablus and the old city has been continuous since the occupation started. So the book is not just architectural; it starts with an architectural description, but also has social, political, economical, cultural interpretations of the buildings described. This is, I think, what makes the book special. I am an architect, so the starting point of my research and writing was architecture. But architecture is just a building, and it is a rigid description to just talk about the look and materials of a building. I felt that the richness of the building is the social life of the building, maybe the economical life of the market, also the cultural livelihood of the fabric.
So whenever there was a linked story to a building, I never hesitated to write it.
DM: And how did you find the stories?
NA: From people. Especially elderly people, I interviewed many of them. And they told me real stories.
DM: What are some examples of the personal stories linked to buildings?
NA: There are so many — one of them is about a mufti, he had the highest seat in Islam, who was from Nablus, appointed by the Ottomans. The British commander in Nablus wanted to meet the community leaders in Nablus. This man made an appointment to meet the sheikh. The reception is always downstairs and the house is above, all the time. So he gathered community leaders of Nablus to meet the guy, and when they were waiting, the mufti was nervously walking and not relaxed. People were asking what was wrong with him. All of the sudden, he went upstairs to his house.
The people were surprised because this is not the way you receive your guests, but they couldn’t have a word with him; he was upstairs in his house. The British commander came, they called upon the mufti and he came down and had a chat and the people left.
But the Nabulsis still didn’t understand, and they asked the mufti why he did that. He said, “Guys, if I was sitting and waiting for the guest, when he came I would have to stand up to respect and welcome him. But I went up, and when he came I came down to him, and he stood up for me. That’s how we should receive the occupier.”
Another story that is very nice is related to what we call in modern times, gender-sensitive issues. In one of the Turkish baths, if you look at the sides of the main hall there is a higher stage where people sit. When I surveyed this in 1992 — I was a student then — there used to be couches, fancy and relaxing seats, not like the stones on the other side. It indicated that this was a special place for people to sit.
The wife of the judge in Nablus, which was the highest position in town, she wanted to have a bath here. The lady who looks after the guests told her “Madam, you can’t sit there, this is only for VIPs, you are not allowed to sit there.” The wife of the judge left angry and didn’t have a bath.
She told her husband, and as the story goes he slapped the table, and he said “I will show them.” What can we expect from the most powerful person in town? He built a special bath for his wife. And he built a tunnel in between his house and the bath so that the bath is only reserved for her, and so that no one can see her when she leaves.
DM: Does the bath still exist?
NA: Yes, and it’s called al-Qadi; it means “the Judge” bath. It is used as a sweets factory now, not as a bath.
DM: The book features poems that are inscribed on buildings in Nablus. Are those common on all historical buildings?
NA: Every monument in Nablus, and some of the houses, have a written inscription which most of the time is a poem. This poem is the most honest documentation of the building date. So I managed to read some, [and] copy what others have read from what were lost.
From the poems I could calculate when the building was built. In Arabic, every letter has a corresponding number — alif is one, ba is two, etc. So if you take the letters of the last phrase of the poem, and you find the equivalent number of each letter and sum them up, you get the year that each building was built. It is a brilliant way of writing a poem.
DM: And they are included in the book?
NA: All of the poems are included with a photo and a copy of the text of the poem.
DM: Can you say one final thing about why Nablus is unique, historically and architecturally?
NA: There is a lot to say about Nablus. I would say that Nablus, at the time that it was built as an Islamic city, during the Mamluk Ottoman period, it was the center of everything. It was the capital of trade. The city was well known for its powerful economy that attracted not only the plans for making the olive oil soap from Jordan, but also the costumes that were exported to Europe and exhibited during the Ottoman period.
The fields of Nablus were where olive trees and cotton plants were planted, because we have four water springs and cotton needs a lot of water.
Also, it was the center of science. Students from Azhar [University] in Egypt would come study in Nablus. There were four schools in the old city of Nablus.
In modern history, before Israeli occupation, there were four buses leaving Nablus every morning — one to Beirut, one to Damascus, one to Jerusalem, and one to Amman. Every morning. My father used to say he would arrive in Damascus before shops opened. The Hijaz train, which took pilgrims from Palestine, Jordan and Syria to Saudi Arabia, started from Nablus. So I could say simply, Nablus was the center of everything for the neighboring countries. You could say it is a unique city.-www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – An architect in Holland has revealed plans to 3D print buildings inspired by the Earth's landscape.
The buildings are designed to resemble a giant mobius strip - a continuous loop with only one side.
Janjaap Ruijssenaars hopes to create the buildings, which he estimates will cost 4-5 million euros (£3.3- £4.2m), all around the world.
Museums, visitor centres and private individuals had already expressed interest, he said.
Mr Ruijssenaars is working with large-scale 3D printing expert Enrico Dini on the project.
According to his company's website, Mr Dini's industrial sized 3D printer uses sand and a special binding agent to create a "marble like material" stronger than cement.
But the 1,000-sq-m buildings would still require concrete reinforcements, Mr Ruijssenaars said.
"3D printing is amazing," he told the BBC.
"For me as an architect it's been a nice way to construct this specific design - it has no beginning and no end and with the 3D printer we can make it look like that.
"In traditional construction you have to make a mould of wood and you fill it with concrete and then you take out the wood - it's a waste of time and energy.
"You can print what you want - it's a more direct way of constructing."
The first "landscape house" should be in position by 2014, said Mr Ruijssenaars.
"We would like to construct one per country," he said.
"A private individual who lives by a national park in Brazil would like one to display the native American art they have found in the park.
"For a museum, the price is around the right mark."-www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem has described the United States as the main architect of the plots against his country, saying that Western and certain regional countries are being used as pawns in Washington’s struggle to achieve its goals in Syria.
In an interview with the British newspaper The Independent published on Tuesday, Muallem stated, “We believe that the US is the major player against Syria and the rest are its instruments.”
He added, “I tell the Americans: You must read well what you did in Afghanistan and Somalia. I don’t understand your slogan of fighting international terrorism when you are supporting this terrorism in Syria.”
He went on to say that over 60 percent of Syria’s violence comes from abroad, specifically from Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, with the United States exercising its influence over all the others.
“When the Americans say, ‘We are supplying the opposition with sophisticated instruments of telecommunications,’ isn’t this part of a military effort, when they supply the opposition with $25 million?” Muallem asked.
He added, “I tell the Europeans: ‘I don’t understand your slogan about the welfare of the Syrian people when you are supporting 17 resolutions against the welfare of the Syrian people.’”
Muallem opined that the goal of the unrest in Syria is to pressure President Bashar al-Assad’s government in regard to its relations with Iran and the resistance movements in Palestine and Lebanon.
“We were told by some Western envoys at the beginning of this crisis that relations between Syria and Iran, Syria and Hezbollah, Syria and Hamas are the major elements behind this crisis. If we settle this issue, they [the Americans] will help end the crisis,” he said.
Muallem stated that the Syrian crisis started with “legitimate demands” subsequently addressed by “legislation and reforms and even a new constitution.” Then along came “foreign elements” who used these legitimate demands “to hijack the peaceful agenda of the people.”
“I don’t accept as a citizen to return back centuries to a regime which can bring Syria backwards. In principle… no government in the world can accept an armed terrorist group, some of them coming from abroad, controlling streets and villages in the name of ‘jihad’,” the Syrian foreign minister said.
Commenting on Syria-Qatar relations, Muallem criticized Doha for turning against Damascus.
“I met the emir (King Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani) in Doha in, I think, November 2011, when the Arab League started their initiative [resulting in the dispatch of Arab League observers to Syria] and we reached agreement… The emir told me: ‘If you agree to this initiative, I will change the attitude of Al-Jazeera and I will tell [Sheikh] Qaradawi [a popular cleric with a regular slot on the television network] to support Syria and reconciliation, and I have put down some billions of dollars to rebuild Syria…’” he noted.
Muallem said he later asked the Qatari emir why he was sending aircraft to attack Libya to join the NATO offensive, despite the fact that he previously had very close relations with Muammar Gaddafi.
“The Qatari emir in response said because we don’t want to lose our momentum in Tunisia and Egypt — and Gaddafi was responsible for dividing Sudan,” the Syrian foreign minister said.—www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: WR NEWZ