Janjaap Ruijssenaars designs the world’s first printed house

January, 2013
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4.5 mins
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Image © The Interviewee

In the age of 3D printing, paper jams are about to get a whole lot more complicated, thanks to Janjaap Ruijssenaars!

Unless you’ve been living in a cave, it’s likely you will have heard the buzz about 3D printing. 3D printing has been used for rapid prototyping for many years but recently the steaks have been upped, yes I said steaks as now 3D printers are capable of printing meat as well as human organs! Enter Janjaap Ruijssenaars…

In the future, we’ll be able to use 3D printers to make phones, mechanical objects and pretty much anything else but the technology is still evolving so my interest was sparked when I heard about a very ambitious project indeed.

Architect Janjaap Ruijssenaars (Universal Architecture) is going to print an actual house and I’m not talking about a detached bungalow in Denby.

The house, which is inspired by a Mobius loop is estimated to cost around 5 million euros and is due to commence in early 2014.

Janjaap Ruijssenaars

Hi Janjaap Ruijssenaars, could you tell us a little about yourself and your work?

The week after graduation as an architect I asked my father, renowned architect Hans Ruijssenaars, what binds all architects. After a minute of silence he answered ‘gravity’ (he would have answered ‘the sun’ to what binds us all he later said).

This led to a long process of researching the possibility of making an artefact of respectable size in which another power than gravity dictates the image. The result is the Floating Bed which is falling ‘up’ due to the use of magnetism. Back then I did not know all projects to come would follow the same path of Question, Answer, Discovery. The discovery, at best, is an ultra-specific design that points to a truth.

The 3rd 366 Award goes to Janjaap Ruijssenaars for his outstanding creative work.

How did the idea of a printed house come about?

The Question was ‘Can a building be like landscape?’. It was asked to celebrate the landscape rather than to add a more traditional design to the landscape. The Answer was that it is possible if there is no beginning or ending. The earth is round. We resolved the continuity by folding a strip of paper into a Mobius strip, a form with only one side. With all materials that we used to make a model we had to make a cut and paste to make this form. With 3d printing we could make it endless and seamless. From there we wondered if we could be blunt and take printing to the level of an actual building.

Mobius 3D House

Will this be the world’s first 3D printed house?

The moment we went public with the plans it looked like it would be but we are pleased to see many other initiatives popping up of printing large structures. London based office SoftKill plans to print a structure this year. Their design I find interesting because there are two ways to make space. One is to hollow out (cave), the other is to make edges (room). Their design unites, at least in image, both ways.  Of lesser interest to me is who will be first to print. Architecture is, in essence, not about competing.

“It is not about small or big. The design of the continuous strip cannot be smaller because of the ceiling height and not much bigger because of the large spans.”

3D Printed House

It’s a very ambitious project, were you not tempted to start with a smaller house?

It is not about small or big. The design of the continuous strip cannot be smaller because of the ceiling height and not much bigger because of the large spans.  3d printing is the challenge, the technique, to realize this specific design.


How long will it take to ‘print’ and construct the whole house?

Estimated around half a year up to a year.

What sort of benefits does 3D printing add to your business?

To our business, architecture, it can be an elegant technique to construct complex shapes directly without making moulds that later have to be removed.

3D Printer

And finally, if you died and were reincarnated as a song, what would that song be?

A children’s song about a bird’s song.

With the new potential 3D printing adds to architecture among other fields, it will be interesting to see what the future has to offer us.

Bird Song"
Bird Song (2009)
Florence + The Machine
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What began as a fun question to end an interview, has now become a wonderfully eclectic collaborative playlist by 161 people (and counting).
Janjaap Ruijssenaars
Our Forest