Dubai reveals plans for world's first 3D-printed office tower, with Chinese help


Fast-growing Dubai, where something new is always being added to the skyline, may have found a way to make construction move even faster.

The Gulf commercial hub has announced plans to work with a Chinese company to add the world's first office building made using 3D printer technology to its collection of eye-catching buildings.

Mohammed al-Gergawi, the United Arab Emirates' minister of cabinet affairs, said the project was part of a broader effort by the seven-state federation to embrace cutting-edge technology and make it a global hub for innovation.

"This building will be a testimony to the efficiency and creativity of 3D printing technology, which we believe will play a major role in reshaping construction and design sectors," he said.

The roughly 186 square metre office building and furniture used inside will be printed out layer by layer from a mixture of reinforced concrete, gypsum and plastic using a 6-metre-tall 3D printer.

The project is a partnership with WinSun Global, a Chinese company which has begun assembling houses and other buildings made using 3D printers, and US architectural and engineering firms Gensler, Thornton Thomasetti and Syska Hennessy.

The Emirates' statement said 3D printing technology had the potential to cut building construction time and labour costs by at least half, and reduce construction waste by 30 per cent to 60 per cent.

It described the proposed Dubai office as "the most advanced 3D printed structure ever built at this scale" and the first to be put into actual use.

No details on the timeframe or cost were made public.

Officials plan to use the office as the temporary headquarters of a US$136 million "Museum of the Future" that is expected to open in 2017.

Dubai is already home to a number of fanciful manmade islands, including one archipelago depicting a map of the world.

It also hosts the world's tallest building, the 828-metre Burj Khalifa.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Dubai plans first 3D printed office