A 3D printed Canal House: exploring the unknown

A 3D printed Canal House: exploring the unknown

Last week, DUS architects won the Sustainability Entrepreneurship Award 2014, the largest sustainability award worldwide, for their 3D print canal house project.

I have been excited about this project ever since I heard about it, because it is a project that takes time, effort and vision to pursue without knowing you’re going to succeed when you begin.

The project started with the question: What if we could 3D-print buildings? Together with Ultimaker, they created a 3D-printer of huge proportions called De KamerMaker, the Room Builder.

After building the KamerMaker in front of their office, in January this year, they moved the printer to the building site in Amsterdam to actually start printing a Canal House.

The building site was open for visits throughout the summer and in August I finally found some time while visiting Amsterdam to watch their progress.

3D Print Canal House


Variations in wall structures

Back of the KamerMaker

The inside of the KamerMaker

KamerMaker print head

Building site

Structure filled with concrete

Canal House model

Obviously, it is nowhere near a building yet. Hopefully they can keep the project running and finish building an actual house at some point in the near future.

Bonus video for those who understand Dutch: Dus-architects in DWDD.


Start your own maker space: two American stories

New Maker Spaces and FabLabs seem to spring up everywhere these days. Today I want to share two stories how people start their own space.

Chicago Public Library makerspace - visualization on wall

Chicago Public Library makerspace – visualization on wall by Katie Day, on Flickr

The first story is about a couple, both artists, who lost their home studio during the Hurricane Katrina flooding. To never be without their studio again, they bought an Airstream (a classic long silver caravan) and equipped it with all the cool tools. As they say on their website:

It is not only an American icon of a utopian dream, it is also the symbol of freedom, innovation and independence that comes to life.

They are now embarking on a tour from New York down the East Coast to Miami and Key West and do a lot of interesting stuff along the way.

I think setting up a FabLab that can move is a wonderful idea, since then you can park a FabLab right in front of your house for a couple of days and let people make stuff that matters, while having a party at the same time.

Frysklab in da house!

The FryskLab parked in front of our house for two days during our unconference Make Stuff That Matters

The second story is about starting a Maker Space in small town America. Jayson Margalus wrote on Make: about the extra challenges you face when bringing the Maker Movement to smaller communities:

Starting a makerspace in a small town comes with many challenges that spaces in cities do not face. Lower population density, lesser awareness of the Maker Movement, and lack of convenient public transit to and from the space being a few of those things.

One of the biggest challenges he describes is to get people of all sorts within the community to understand about the Maker Movement first. His advice:

You need to build a support system within your community in order to succeed. Spread the fundamental ideals of the Maker Movement: teaching, learning, growing. Share your vision with anybody who will listen. Everything else will fall into place.

Especially focusing on the message that it is about teaching, learning and growing is important in my view. The Maker Movement is all about making people Maker Literate – the digital version.


We fell in love with Bauhaus chess set, and at last we can make it!

We fell in love with Bauhaus chess set, and at last we can make it!

I never learned to play chess. At some point in time I did buy a Chess for Dummies guide, but I quickly got bored with all the rules and moves to remember, so I never got beyond the first chapter. My partner on the other hand, did learn to play chess and when I first moved in with him, a chess table was prominently present in our living room. Several house moves later, we ditched the chess set as its main job was serving as a dust collector.

Then, on August 17 2009, my partner saw  this Bauhaus chess set during our trip to East-Germany.

Bauhaus Chess Set
We both fell in love with this set and to our surprise there was a book available with all the dimension at the Bauhaus museum in Weimar. We bought the book with the intention to make it. As you may have guessed, that never happened of course. Our main obstacle: not knowing how to transfer the design to a 3D-model.

We moved on and we forgot about the plan.

Today I came across one of FabLab Amsterdam’s old projects, printing…..a Bauhaus chess set! Apparently there are more fans of this chess set and shared their 3D models on Thingiverse. I guess that’s our next print job cut out for us 😉


Making in education: let’s call it Maker Literacy

Making in education: let’s call it Maker Literacy

I’ve heard of many projects where FabLabs, Makerspaces, Hackerspaces and 3D-print companies do workshops with kids, from making their own personalized objects to building their own 3D-printer.

Today I came across this article on Edutopia, in which Sylvia Martinez explains how the Maker Movement supports learning theories that have learning by doing at the core. At the beginning of her article she says something very interesting:

“I also think that “making” shouldn’t be just making anything. Schools have a tendency to cherry-pick the easiest parts of implementing complex ideas. When we talk about making in the classroom, we have to continually raise the bar and challenge ourselves to create an academically worthy process. The best way to do this, in my opinion, is to add computational technology to the making.

A computer with appropriate software means that opportunities for design, simulation, precision, accuracy, measurement, feedback, sensors, data, and programming are not just possible, but greatly enhanced. Interaction between the digital and physical world adds a level of complexity that results in greater understanding of both.”

I especially like that last sentence. You can easily stitch a model together in Tinkercad, using basic building blocks, but making that into a physical object may result in something unprintable on your machine. You can be told that it will not print, but nothing beats the experience of seeing it go wrong for yourself.

To see how the Maker Movement already enters schools, Edutopia published this wonderful story, how a boy brought making into his own school:

This story reminds me very much of the stories my generation tell about the introduction of the personal computer in their schools (and homes for some of them). I was lucky to have a father who bought an Atari 800 XL when I was about 6. Even though I was too young at that time, a few years later I did learn to type in some lines in Basic, so at that time I learned how programming worked.

I remember we were very patient computer users back then. Waiting for half an hour to load a game from a tape-deck was normal. And don’t get me started about the amount of failed attempts of loading in the last few seconds. Today, we are patiently waiting hours for our 3D-printer to finish printing. And don’t get me started about the number of restarts, because the first few layers didn’t stick to the print-bed.

Bringing the low-cost digital machines and electronics to schools is key to have more kids exposed to how stuff works and gets created in the real world. Now that we can afford to bring this set of tools into schools, we should. Just as we needed to learn about computers and the internet, we now need to learn about making. It’s time to introduce, what I would call, Maker Literacy in schools.


APF 3.0: The Curated Page

APF 3.0: The Curated Page

This is a short video I created during the project I’m involved with to build a new community platform for people in agri-business. It introduces users to one of the new concepts of the platform.


APF 3.0: Your Post Travels

APF 3.0: Your Post Travels

This is a short video I created during the project I’m involved with to build a new community platform for people in agri-business. It introduces users to one of the new concepts of the platform.

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