The 52 house Mvule Gardens project will be located in Kilifi town, north of Mombasa, in Kenya.
The 52 house Mvule Gardens project will be located in Kilifi town, north of Mombasa, in Kenya. [Photo/ 14 Trees]

A new neighbourhood in a Kenyan town is to spring into existence in record time thanks to a world-beating 3D printing technology.

It was announced that Africa’s largest 3D-printed affordable housing project will be developed by 14Trees, a venture between Holcim and CDC Group, the UK’s development finance institution. The 52 house Mvule Gardens project will be located in Kilifi town, north of Mombasa, in Kenya.

Earlier this year, 14Trees built the world’s first 3D printed school in the Salima district of Malawi. The development followed the company’s first 3D-printed prototype house in Lilongwe, Malawi – built with precision in less than 12 hours, which significantly reduces the four days spent building a home with conventional building practices.

“Building on a track record of speed and progress, the new complex in Kenya underscores 14Trees’ forward plan to support Africa’s innovation in construction and further develop 3D printing technology across the continent,” the company said.

This project was made possible by Holcim’s proprietary ink, TectorPrint, giving the walls structural function to bear the load of the building. The new technique reduces the environmental footprint by more than 50 percent compared to traditional processes and lowers CO2 emissions typical to standard methods of cement production.

Further, 14Trees identifies natural fibre components to strengthen best practices in 3D printing for construction in Africa and creates locally based skilled jobs in sustainability and 3D technology operations, among other areas.

The new 52 house community will be part of the Green Heart of Kenya regenerative ecosystem, a Kenyan model for inclusive and climate-resilient cities. 14Trees’ won the IFC-EDGE advanced sustainable design certification, recognising resource-efficient and zero-carbon buildings.

“We are excited to be building one of the world’s largest 3D-printed affordable housing projects in Kenya. With today’s rapid urbanization, over three billion people are expected to need affordable housing by 2030. This issue is most acute in Africa, with countries like Kenya already facing an estimated shortage of two million houses. By deploying 3D-printing, we can address this infrastructure gap at scale to increase living standards for all,” said Jan Jenisch, CEO, Holcim.

In addition, the purpose-built design by the United States – Africa based architectural practice, MASS Design Group, seeks to provide modern and replicable housing units adapted to the needs of underserved communities among lower-income households. 14Trees will begin construction of Mvule Gardens in the first quarter of 2022.

The innovation is a valuable, rapid, and economical solution to the housing deficit in sub-Saharan Africa, which is estimated at 50 million units.

Commenting on 14Trees ability to develop safe, well-located, and reliable homes for communities across Africa, Tenbite Ermias, Head of Africa and Africa Managing Director, CDC Group, said: “14 Trees is pioneering the use of leading-edge technology to address one of Africa’s most pressing development needs – affordable housing – to create life-changing infrastructure for whole communities.”

Read: Affordable Housing Stakeholders Eyeing Ksh1M Units

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