university of hong kong’s ‘traditional house of the future’ 3D-printed in china


3D-printed architecture arrives in rural china


A team of students and researchers from the University of Hong Kong presents its 3D-printed ‘Traditional House of the Future’ as is an innovative prototype that embodies the convergence of traditional and modern building methods, catering to the evolving needs of a rapidly changing lifestyle. Located in Nanlong Village, Guizhou Province, China, the project aims to revitalize and recycle vernacular houses in response to the urbanization of rural areas.


By combining 3D-printed construction and timber framing, the project presents a participatory framework that seamlessly integrates robotic on-site printing with traditional wood craftsmanship. This unique blend of contemporary and traditional techniques serves to reimagine the concept of a traditional wooden house, embracing modernity while respecting local cultural practices.

3D printed house china



Preserving Tradition through Evolution


The research conducted on self-builders in rural China reveals the imperative to evolve and adapt traditional wooden houses in light of changing livelihoods, a necessity acknowledged by the 3D-printed Traditional House of the Future. The team from the University of Hong Kong incorporates flexible spatial organizations and modern amenities into the design.


The project team scanned a pre-existing house on site, and was thus able to robotically print walls that seamlessly integrated with the existing structure. This innovative approach enabled the creation of new spaces, including a planting area, entrance courtyard, skylight, balcony, kitchen, and bathrooms. The ability to dismantle and recondition the original structure within a day exemplifies the agility and adaptability of Chinese traditional houses.

3D printed house china



Combining 3D Printing and Timber Framing


At the heart of the prototypical house in China lies the harmonization of contemporary 3D-printed construction and traditional timber framing techniques. The utilization of robotic on-site printing technology allows for precise customization and efficient construction processes. By combining this cutting-edge technology with the expertise of local wood craftsmen, the project merges the advantages of modernity with the warmth and authenticity of traditional craftsmanship. This synergy not only creates a striking architectural expression but also fosters a dialogue between the past and the future.

3D printed house china



a house to Empower Local Communities


The 3D-printed Traditional House of the Future serves as a catalyst for social change and empowerment within the local community in rural China. By involving the villagers in the dismantling and reconditioning of the original structure, the project embraces a participatory approach to design and construction. This inclusive framework empowers the community to contribute their knowledge and skills while preserving their cultural heritage. Moreover, the project demonstrates how technology can strengthen local building practices and foster a sense of pride and ownership.

3D printed house china



Sustainability at its Core


In recognizing the existing built fabric as a ‘new nature’ that requires adaptation rather than alteration, the Traditional House of the Future addresses key areas of sustainability. Social sustainability is achieved by actively involving the community and promoting self-sufficiency. Technological sustainability is exemplified through the implementation of 3D printing technology, which streamlines construction processes and reduces waste. Finally, cultural sustainability is preserved by integrating traditional building methods and celebrating the local cultural identity.

3D printed house chinathe resulting house fosters a dialogue between the past and the future


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