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Amsterdam's Fab City: urban solutions for tomorrow

Amsterdam's Fab City: urban solutions for tomorrow
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Imagining tomorrow’s sustainable, self-sufficient city: that is the goal of Fab City, a global project which started in Barcelona two years ago and is currently being tested in Amsterdam.

Located at the head of Java Island in the city’s Eastern Harbour District, it includes 50 innovative pavilions, where more than 400 students, professionals, artists and creatives are working on finding solutions to urban issues.

Porta Palace is a tiny home on wheels recently completed by a Dutch art and design collective.

Fixed on a trailer, this 18 square metre mobile home is built with eco-friendly materials. It is timber-framed and covered with a steel roof, and contains a small living area with a kitchen, a toilet, a shower, and a double bed located over the coffee table.

“People are really surprised that there is so much space in such a small house,” says Woonpioners project manager Jelte Glas. “Also, (they are surprised) because we use a lot of glass and it is open and looks so open and interacts really with the environment.”

The Porta Palace will set you back approximately 35,000 euros.

Wikkelhouse is a module concept house mostly built out of cardboard. Different modules are created which can then be assembled according to the home-owners wishes and needs.

Each module is made by gluing 24 layers of cardboard around a rotating house-shaped mould, using eco-friendly glue. The structure is then covered with wood frames to protect it from physical impact and UV rays from the sun.

Its developers say the result is a robust sandwich structure with optimal insulation qualities.

“This is already a little house that I could live in,” says Oep Schilling, the founder of Fiction Factory, the company behind Wikkelhouse, holding up one module. “But now I want a kitchen, and I want a toilet. So we make this element where it’s all in it: I put my kitchen in it, and I put one behind it (the original module), I put another one behind it and now I have a bedroom. So this is already like a house, which is built within a week.”

The price per module is about 3,500 euros. If you add concrete foundations, additional construction elements, a pre-fabricated kitchen, toilet and bathroom, the end price of a home comes to around 70,000 euros.

And what about equipping your sustainable home with equally sustainable 3D printed elements?

That’s what Dutch company MX3D proposes. It has developed a six-axis industrial robot arm with an advanced welding machine controlled by software. The printer proposes a wide variety of objects made of metal or resin, without the need for support structures.

The company’s founder says his 3D technology has a significant advantage over ordinary 3D printers, and wants to prove it by printing a pedestrian bridge made of steel in the centre of Amsterdam.

“Normal 3D printers have to operate in a building volume like this (holds hands apart) and we can go meters big. So building a bridge is really a leap from where we are now with the current technique. This is our true innovation,” says Gijs van der Velden, the founder of MX3D.

Amsterdam’s Fab City campus is open to the public until June 26.

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