Last week, the DFAB House in Dübendorf, Switzerland, officially opened becoming the world's first digitally planned and built residence.
Originally announced in 2017, the project was part of Switzerland's National Centre of Competence in Research Digital Fabrication initiative, which aims to develop and integrate "technologies within the field of architecture," according to the center's website. An eight-person team of ETH Zurich professors researched and developed the robotic, planning, and 3D printing technologies to bring the 2,153-square-foot, three-story smart house to fruition.
The aim of the project was not only to make construction and planning more efficient, but also more sustainable. According to a press release from ETH Zurich, the digitally designed floor slab required less concrete than a traditional residence while maintaining stability. Using 3D sand printing and 295 unique formwork parts, the "Smart Slab" can "create a free-form, highly optimised building component," according to the project fact sheet. The project also uses a "Smart Dynamic Casting" system involving the digitally controlled pouring of concrete into "a flexible formwork that shapes the concrete as it hardens" to produce mullions and a robot located in ETH Zurich's Robotic Fabrication Lab to construct timber frame modules referencing only a computer layout. The team also created and utilized an on-site mobile construction robot programmed to assemble these pieces based on a sensing and computing system that is capable of adapting to most unforeseen construction variables.
"The architectural potential of digital fabrication technologies is immense," said Swiss project concept architect Matthias Kohler in the release. "With the DFAB House, we are able to test new technologies hand in hand with industry and thus accelerate the transfer from research to practice."
Located on top of the Swiss interdisciplinary research institute Empa and Eawag's Next Evolution in Sustainable Building Technologies building, the residence includes many smart features such as voice controlled blinds and kitchen appliances, the use of rooftop photovoltaic modules equipped with an intelligent control system for energy management, and a water and sewer system designed by researchers from Empa and Eawag. The system recycles heat from waste water and reuses hot water instead of allowing it to cool, which saves both energy and water, according to the release.
Academic guests of Empa and Eawag will have the opportunity to stay in the house, with first occupants scheduled to move in this spring.