Part of a larger plan
Mvule Gardens is not only the first 3D-printed housing development on the African continent, but also part of a larger master plan. This is based on the idea of the garden city, which was common in Britain in the early 20th century, but also in many other countries. The aim is to combine the best aspects of urban life with the benefits of nature.
In addition, 14Trees has the approach to involve the future homeowners in the planning from the beginning. This way, the houses will fit their needs and grow with them. This also includes various flexible options for financing the affordable houses.
Mvule Gardens has already received a preliminary EDGE certificate for the green construction of the houses. Once completed, the development is expected to deliver 42% energy savings, 24% water savings and up to 69% less grey energy.
Read more: Can 3D-printed houses provide a solution for affordable housing?
3D printing of houses is booming and now even entire neighbourhoods come from the printer. Read more about Mvule Gardens in Kenya, the largest housing project with affordable houses from the 3D printer, here.
Africa’s largest 3D-printed residential district
In Kenya, the Mvule Gardens residential district is currently under construction. It will consist entirely of 3D-printed houses. The houses will not only be affordable, but also environmentally friendly. There are also already 3D-printed housing units in the USA and Mexico, and the first house from the printer opened in Germany in 2021.
But Mvule Gardens in Kenya goes one step further: the entire settlement comes from the 3D construction printer. The printing process is particularly fast: The walls of the smaller houses, for example, take just 18 hours to print. Behind the project is the joint venture 14Trees, funded by the Swiss company Holcim and British International Investment, a development cooperation organisation. The designers are from MASS Design Group, an architecture studio based in the USA and Africa.
In February 2022, 14Trees announced that the first ten units of the housing project in Kilifi, a town on the Kenyan coast south of Mombasa, were ready. The sustainable and innovative building solutions will be not only environmentally friendly, but also affordable. Soon, an entire community will exist in Mvule Gardens, including 52 single-family homes. The first ten houses will have three to four bedrooms each.
One metre of material per second
14Trees wants to show how sustainable building projects can be realised with low construction costs. The project uses a printer from the Danish company Cobod. The “BOD2” is considered the fastest 3D construction printer on the market. It applies one metre of material per second, so that an entire house can take as little as a few days.
The price for a two-bedroom house in Mvule Gardens is around 27,200 euros. That is quite a high price by Kenyan standards. Therefore, 14Trees is working on reducing the construction costs even further. Ultimately, the houses in Mvule Gardens will be 20 percent cheaper than standard houses.
In Kenya, the housing shortage is severe. 14Trees states that there is a shortage of about two million houses in the East African country. Can 3D-printed buildings provide a remedy? Critical voices are not convinced. For one thing, the price of concrete, and especially of the special concrete used in 3D printing, is still high. The ecological balance of the material is also not to be neglected. The technology for 3D printing houses is still very complicated and cost-intensive. Therefore, it is currently difficult to offer 3D-printed housing developments at a significantly lower price.