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The first 3D printed building appears in Ukraine! Construction workers are on the front line, and the printer completed 370 square meters of walls in 40 hours

2024-03-28 09:51:40  News

In Lviv, Ukraine, a unique building is quietly rising. Its soft appearance and smooth curves are very different from traditional school buildings. This is Project Hive—Europe's first 3D-printed education center and the first 3D-printed building in a war zone.

Under fire

Ukraine explores 3D printing classrooms on and off

The building next to School No. 23 in Lviv has a unique appearance, with its walls having a texture similar to that of a cocoon or honeycomb, thanks to the construction method used to build it: 3D printing.

According to reports, the 3D printer printed 370 square meters of wall in just 40 hours. The printer "paints the honeycomb," strictly following a digital blueprint, stacking layers of concrete like icing on a cake.

The 3D printer stacks layers of concrete like icing on a cake.

The 3D printer stacks layers of concrete like icing on a cake.

The Beehive project will build four classrooms at a primary school in Lviv to accommodate students displaced by the conflict, said Jean-Christophe Bonis, the project's initiator. "I'm not a builder; I don't want to be an architect or a developer... but with robots and artificial intelligence, we can speed up the (construction) process," he said. If the project is successful, "3D printing will become a tool for local construction projects in Ukraine.".

The Beehive project started in September 2022 and was originally planned to be completed within three months. However, due to power outages caused by frequent air strikes and bombings in Ukraine, the project had to be suspended. It was not until last summer, when the situation in Lviv stabilized and power was restored that the printers could be delivered to the site. While printing the building's concrete frame took less than two days in total, the construction process was extended to six weeks to allow for on-site training and development.

 The actual construction scene of the Honeycomb project

The actual construction scene of the Honeycomb project

After revising the start date to January 2024, the project hit another obstacle: funding. Construction costs have risen sharply in Ukraine over the past year, and project organizers say they need to raise another $400,000 to complete the finishing touches, such as roofing, windows, doors, and interior design. "I face challenges every day," Bonis said. But he still firmly believes that 3D printing technology is not only a construction tool, but also a way to deliver hope.

"Experts are fighting on the front lines."

Automation may help Ukraine rebuild

Some experts are wary of the use of 3D-printed buildings in large-scale construction in war zones. Christian Lange, an associate professor at the School of Architecture at the University of Hong Kong, said that this technology is "still in its infancy" and lacks sufficient data support on the safety and stability of buildings; 3D printers are extremely costly, bulky, and difficult to move; and Cheaper and faster options than 3D printing exist, such as prefabricated and modular construction.

But in Ukraine, many technicians, construction workers and industry experts are fighting on the front lines. Olga Gavra, managing partner of 7CI Group, said that compared with traditional construction methods, 3D printing can significantly shorten the construction cycle and reduce workforce requirements. The group is one of the contractors on the Beehive project. "This technology allows Ukraine to complete construction with fewer professionals, which is a significant advantage," Ghafra said, noting that only four experts were needed during the construction phase of the Beehive project.

Honeycomb project concept map 

Honeycomb project concept map

Damage to Ukraine's infrastructure - including homes, schools, energy grids and transportation networks - between the Russia-Ukraine conflict and September 2023, a study by the Kyiv School of Economics estimates, will cost $151.2 billion to replace. Researchers found that more than 3,500 educational facilities and more than 160,000 residences were among the damaged or destroyed structures.


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