3D concrete homes printed in Alberta
November 1, 2023
Foundation laid for the largest 3D concrete printed housing project in Alberta at Siksika Nation, a community east of Calgary. | Photo by Siksika Nation
An Alberta First Nation is building the largest 3D concrete printed housing project in the province with a series of fourplexes near Calgary.
Siksika Nation has laid and backfilled the foundation while the gantry for a printer has been set up and a batch plant has been installed onsite. A robotic arm will begin layering exterior concrete walls for the structure in October 2023.
The walls will be laid on top of a concrete-slab-on-grade foundation to create transitional housing units for members of the community.
“We are just about to complete the first foundation and slab,” Ryan Hall, housing manager at Siksika Nation told the Journal of Commerce. “Printing of the first building is expected to begin on October 24.”
The buildings will consist of 16 one-bedroom, one-bathroom units grouped in fourplexes. Each unit will be about 600 square feet. Completion is scheduled for April 2024.
The project is funded with $2.6 million from Indigenous Services Canada. Crews from nidus3D of Kingston, Ontario, laid the concrete foundation.
Cost of each unit upon completion is about $162,500.
The University of Calgary School of Architecture and Planning is working with nidus3D and the community to develop the units.
Siksika Nation had been searching for new and innovative ways to build housing. While 3D concrete printing technology has been around for about a decade, it’s only become more commercially viable in the last few years.
“The funding and timing of this project was perfectly aligned to build it now,” says Hall. “We are in a severe housing crisis and we need to act now.”
Once the walls are up, crews will do the electrical and plumbing work, install windows and do the finishing work. The community is planning to hire mostly local Siksika Nation contractors for the work.
Hall says the project has gone smoothly so far but it may be tricky getting the printer to work during winter.
“The main challenge [is] winter construction. The printer will not operate correctly under about 5 [degrees Celsius], so we have worked with a tent company to provide a shelter for each building site with heating.”
Hall plans to make the business case for the Siksika Nation to buy a 3D concrete printer so the community can design and build its own housing.