14Trees affordable housing and schools using 3D printing technology

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14Trees, a joint venture between LafargeHolcim Ltd, a Swiss multinational company that manufactures building materials, and CDC Group plc, a development finance institution owned by the UK government, is set to build affordable and low-carbon housing and schools in Africa, starting in Malawi, using 3D printing technology.

With its high speed of construction and optimized material use, this technology reduces the carbon footprint for building new homes by up to 70 percent. Pioneering this technology in schools for the first time in Malawi, 14Trees aims to address the country’s chronic infrastructure shortage while creating skilled local jobs.

First prototype house and school

The company has already completed work on its first prototypes for its projects in Africa.

The walls of 14Trees’ first prototype house were built in Lilongwe in just 12 hours, which could otherwise take almost four days using conventional methods. The walls of its first school, built in Salima, were printed in just 18 hours, as opposed to several days could the conventional methods be used.

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The projects relied on local 14Trees teams including 3D machine operators, architects, civil and structural engineers, and materials specialists, trained by LafargeHolcim and COBOD. The project also involved nearly 40 people in the preparation of the 3D ink and in the construction with building trades such as carpenters, roofers, and painters.

Projects already in the pipeline in Kenya and Zimbabwe

Miljan Gutovic, region head, Middle East Africa and LafargeHolcim Executive Committee member, said, “I am very excited about the work of our joint venture 14Trees, innovating in 3D printing technology to accelerate affordable and sustainable building, from homes to schools.

“This is a great example of our commitment to building for people and the planet. Starting in Malawi, we will deploy this technology across the broader region with projects already in the pipeline in Kenya and Zimbabwe.”