During the Presidency 17,500 participants will attend 135 meetings in the Europe Building.
DUS Architects, the group behind Amsterdam’s 3-D Print Canal House, have designed a large scale 3D printed facade for the mobile venue hosting events related to the 2016 EU presidency. This year’s meetings are being held in in a central location – the Marine Etablissement dockyard in Amsterdam, which is a departure point from previous years, where meetings were distributed throughout various locations in the host city. The epicenter of the six month event is the Europe Building, the first commercial project stemming from DUS’ 3-D Print Canal House. Showcasing a series of locally produced “XXL” 3D prints, the Europe Building is a temporary cost-conscious structure sharing Dutch innovation, history, and art with visitors and representatives from the EU’s 28 countries.
One of the most dramatic features of the building envelope are white translucent fabric membranes tensioned to a galvanized steel frame. The surfaces produce sail-like forms in a nod to historic sailing ships from the area. The sails peel up and outward revealing seating alcoves and a main entrance to the building (all saturated in EU blue for good measure). Martijn van Wijk, Project Architect EU facade, DUS architects told AN that the project serves as a prime example of how digitally fabricated components can integrate with traditional construction. “The facade elements had to fit exactly in the alcoves created by the sails. As a precise custom-made and locally produced solution, parametric design and digital fabrication are very well suited for this.”
The project was realized with what DUS calls an XXL 3D printer. “We are currently researching and aiming to overcome all challenges in regard of construction, material durability and detailing.” The printer, housed in a shipping container to protect from adverse weather conditions, can produce single prints as large as 6.5 x 6.5 x 11.5 feet. The 3-D printed media is an innovative recyclable bio-plastic, not yet commercially available, which will be ground up and re-printed at the completion of the presidency events. The printed wall panels are structurally supported off a conventionally framed load-bearing wall assembly. The base of the units is hollow, acting as a shaped formwork for a lightweight concrete mixture providing the bench surface. The concrete benches are finished with a polishing process that exposes the patterning of the 3-D print.
Parametric development and 3-D printing was performed by Amsterdam-based firm Actual, who is a start-up that develops online customizing software for building elements linked to XL 3D printing. Actual’s design incorporates a patterning which produces a gradient from large to small and round to square to symbolize the “variety and community” of the countries which make up the EU.
Beyond the facade lies over 86,000 sq. ft. of conference rooms, lounges, interpreting booths, and meeting rooms. Neptunus, a temporary structure company, constructed the complex from three of their “Evolution” structures that rely on a hydraulic space frame roof structure for rapid assembly and disassembly. The structure was constructed in three months by Neptunus, and will remain open through the 2016 EU presidency, hosting supporting events through June.
Tosja Backer, Community Manager DUS architects, says the experimental process of delivering large-scale 3-D printed building components was a success: “We are now even more convinced that 3-D printing is an ideal way to quickly create custom-fit building elements, locally and on-demand. The building process was significantly quicker because all elements fit exactly and were printed close to the site. It is also an interesting first test to see how 3-D prints and bio-based materials hold in a public area that is heavily used.” The structure will remain open through the 2016 EU presidency, hosting supporting events through June.