Homes you can print transport on the back of a truck, even fly. They sound like the homes of science fiction, but they might well be the real residences of the not-too-distant future. Impelled by the pressures of climate change and population growth and shaped by the promise of technologies like 3D printing, a revolution is brewing in the future of home-building around the globe.
We need to rethink almost everything about the way we live, especially in coastal cities, because our world may be reshaped by rising oceans in ways we can’t yet fully anticipate, says Hans-Peter Plag, a professor and director of the Mitigation and Adaptation Research Institute at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.
Complicating the problem of a shrinking landmass is the prediction that the human population will bloom to almost 10 billion people by 2050.
Behrokh Khoshnevis, professor of engineering at the University of Southern California and director of its Center for Rapid Automated Fabrication Technologies, is one of many innovators looking to ease the housing crises. He hopes his 3D printing construction method, which he calls Contour Crafting, will create a way to build homes for a fraction of the current cost. Khoshnevis said his technology would bu ild a house in a day and cut down the construction cost by 30%, a goal he says will happen within the next year or two.
Arthur Mamou-Mani, director of Mamou-Mani Architects and Fab Pub as well as a lecturer at the University of Westminster, said 3D printers and other fabrication machines “will empower people to participate in the designs they want.“ He said some people have talked about how drones could pick up and move houses in the future. “The house will be the drone. Why separate the thing that carries you from the house? Just make it the house,“ he said, adding, “Our generation is increasingly nomad, raised with low-cost airlines and often working from home with laptops, therefore flying our homes will seem normal in the future, and as for any migrating bird, borders between countries will seem like an absurd relic of the past.“
Kasita, a company in Austin, Texas, is moving toward a model that would allow people to move a home between cities without wheels or propellers. Imagine owning a micro-movable apartment that you parked in a building in Austin, where it slides in like a drawer. When you needed to move to LA, a crane would come, put your house on a truck that would drive it to your new location, where a forklift could slide it into an opening in your new building.