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The First 3D-printed House Made of Earth

By AnThony Legins

Gaia: World's 1st house made of earth

It's estimated that about two percent of the world's population is homeless. Two percent may not seem like a lot, but it adds up to roughly 154 million people living on the streets, in makeshift shelters, in refugee camps, and in other precarious and frequently dangerous situations.

With an ingenious process that has been 9 years in the making, a company in Italy has developed a 3D printer called the WASP that is able to use raw dirt from the ground to create a unique and eco-friendly housing structure providing a potential solution to homelessness in desolate areas.

Gaia, which gets its name from the fact that raw earth is used as the main binder in the constituent mixture, can be thought of as a new eco-sustainable architectural model that focuses on the use of natural waste materials derived from the rice production chain and geared toward the construction of bioclimatic and healthy masonry. The relationship with RiceHouse, a local building materials supplier, made this research possible as well.

RiceHouse provided the vegetable fibers via which WASP produced a compound made up of 25% site soil (30% clay, 40% silt, and 30% sand), 40% straw chopped rice, 25% rice husk, and 10% hydraulic lime for the realization of Gaia. A muller was used to combine the ingredients and make the slurry homogenous and usable.

Gaia is a high-performing module in terms of energy efficiency and indoor air quality, with virtually little environmental impact. It does not require heating or air conditioning since, owing to its masonry, it prints in a few weeks and keeps a moderate and comfortable temperature inside both in winter and summer.

RiceHouse's bioclimatic project takes advantage of the sun's passive contribution thanks to its South West orientation, where a large window is positioned to optimize natural light, but is especially centered in the stratigraphy, both in the roof, made of wood with a limechaff insulation (RH300), and in the lime-chaff screed, light but thermal, that allows to reach an energy requirement equal to a class A4 energy requirement. Internally, the monolithic wall was completed with a shaving clay-lamina (RH400), smoothed, and oiled with linseed oils.

Tiziana Monterisi (RiceHouse's CEO): "Gaia was made exclusively with natural materials such as raw soil, shredded straw, husk, and wood and is highly performing from an energy and environmental point of view".

The Crane Wasp 3D Printer

The building envelope, which was 3D printed entirely on site using the Crane WASP, was created with the goal of integrating natural ventilation and thermo-acoustic insulation technologies into a single solution. The deposition of the material, which is made up of raw soil, straw, and rice husk, is regulated by articulated weaves that provide both structural stability and geometric diversity during the wall's development. Because of the precision and speed of 3D technology, computational design has made it possible to produce complicated geometries that are difficult to replicate with traditional construction processes in the construction industry. The 3D printed casing took 100 hours to complete for a total of 30 square meters of wall with a thickness of 40 cm and a total cost of € 900 ($1,027 USD) for the materials used.

On the basis of the data collected with Gaia, new economic scenarios might be imagined in which one hectare of planted paddy field can be converted into 100 square meters of built space.

The Gaia experience allows visitors to learn about the many possibilities that 3D printing may unlock thanks to global agricultural resources, ensuring a low environmental effect while also providing limitless design options, which are crucial in a new living vision.



Guest blogger AnThony Legins is host of 'How To Buy The Hood' and 'The Armond & AnThony Show' now streaming on 4BiddenKnowledge TV. He is a member of the International Association of Professional Writers & Editors (IAPWE) and he enjoys writing on topics relating to mindset, money, real estate, science, finance and motivation. Read more articles and posts by AnThony at: and follow on IG @anthony_legins





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