First-ever 3D-printed school building in the world unveiled in Malawi
2 kilometres from the Salima Hospital in Malawi sat a newly built school that was not there a few months earlier. The building had just been 3D-printed by a joint venture comprising three organisations; 14Trees, the Holcim Group and CDC Group.
14Trees is an innovative green building solution provider with the goal of developing sustainable buildings and eliminating harmful impacts of construction on climate conditions. Holcim is a French-Swiss multinational construction company while the CDC Group is the UK’s development finance institution wholly owned by the government.
The 3D printing of the school took place in the Salima district, with the walls taking 18 hours to be completed. This is relatively faster than it takes to build a regular school building using the traditional methodologies.
Since the school was needed in another village, it was transported from its place of printing to the village of Kalonga in the Yambe zone of Salima District. Students have now started learning in the new building since June 21.
The mode of constructing the school is a global landmark. Speaking on the development, Miljan Gutovic, Region Head of Europe, Middle East, and Africa at Holcim Group said, “I am very proud of how our colleagues at 14Trees have deployed cutting-edge 3D printing technology to solve such an essential infrastructure need. Now that we’ve proven the concept in Malawi, we look forward to scaling up this technology across the broader region, with projects already in the pipeline in Kenya and Zimbabwe.”
The addition of the world’s first 3D-printed school building brings the total number of schools in the Yambe zone to 13, according to Juliana Kuphanga Chikandila, Primary Education Advisor in Malawi.
The technology makes it possible for the rapid construction of schools, a solution that the African country presently needs. Chikandila explained that the zone needed 4 more primary schools to serve its populace. As a district, Salima needs about 50 more schools.
In the whole of Malawi, approximately 36,000 classrooms are needed before education can be considered to be in excellent supply to the country’s young citizens. While 14Trees says the classrooms can all be built in 10 years if 3D printing is employed, the Holcim Group estimates that it will take about 70 years to construct them all if regular construction methods are used.
Starting with the communities that are most in need, the green building venture is working with non-governmental organizations to print more schools so that the shortage will reduce. The printing process was carried out using proprietary LafargeHolcim ink. This reduced the environmental footprint by more than 50% compared to traditional building methods.
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