Will This Crazy Home Win The 3-D Printed House Race?

The ProtoHouse looks like something out of science fiction, but its architects say that when it’s done, it will be the first house that you can say came from a printer.

The race is on to build the first 3-D printed house. And while we recently reported on the Dutch-designed, Möbius-strip shaped house that’s aiming to be the world’s first 3-D printed building, it looks like it’s not just a one-team race.


An architecture firm in London has its own plans for the world’s first 3-D printed house, and they argue that the Dutch design shouldn’t be awarded the title, even if it gets there first.

“We actually don’t even consider [the Möbius-strip design] a 3-D printed building because [architect Janjaap Ruijssenaars] is 3-D printing formwork and then pouring concrete into the form,” Giles Restin of London’s Softkill Design told Dezeen: “So it’s not that the actual building is 3-D printed.”

So is it possible that Softkill’s design ProtoHouse is more legit?

Here’s how they describe it on their website: “The Softkill house moves away from heavy, compression-based 3-D printing of on-site buildings, instead proposing lightweight, high-resolution, optimized structures which, at life scale, are manageable truck-sized pieces that can be printed off-site and later assembled on-site.” Softkill says that it’d take them three weeks to print the “seven big chunks of laser-sintered plastic” that make up the house off-site, and one day to piece them all together on-site, without the need for nuts, bolts, or adhesive.

The design features long, fibrous threads of plastic, unlike other 3-D printing projects which use sand or concrete. “This generates buildings with a previously unseen level of detail, and opens up the possibility of printing all architectural elements, such as structure, furniture, stairs, and facade in one instance,” according to Softkill.

The debate about whose house is actually 3-D printed is, of course, mostly one of semantics, reflecting the limitations of the term “3-D printed,” which implies merely pressing “print” to churn out a perfectly assembled house. “Some assembly required” would be stamped on both boxes if the kits for the houses were one day packaged and sold to the public–the kind of disruption to home manufacturing people envision in some not so far off future with 3-D printing.


About the author

Zak Stone is a Los Angeles-based writer and a contributing editor of Playboy Digital. His writing has appeared in,, Los Angeles, The Utne Reader, GOOD, and elsewhere.