In a groundbreaking initiative, professors John Lin and Lidia Ratoi of the University of Hong Kong merged an ancient dilapidated wooden house in China with a 3D-printed structure, creating the Traditional House of the Future. This project is part of a larger government plan to renovate hundreds of old wooden houses in Nanlong village in southwest China.
The process began with a full scan of the original house, which was then dismantled and enlarged, supported by 3D-printed walls. By integrating the new walls, the living space of the traditional house was enlarged, with additional dividing walls creating an entrance patio, kitchen and bathrooms.
The project emphasizes the potential of technology as a means to reinforce local and cultural building practices. By treating the existing built fabric as a ‘new nature’ that requires adaptation rather than alteration, the Traditional House of the Future embraces sustainability in social, technological and cultural aspects.
The design concept is inspired by Lin and Sony Devabhaktuni’s research on innovative vernacular house renovations in rural China. His approach views older homes as continually flexible design structures capable of adapting to changing lifestyles, rather than solely preserving cultural heritage. As rural China experiences lifestyle changes, the lack of flexible spaces in traditional wooden houses has led to neglect. The addition of 3D printed walls allows locals to repurpose these old houses and reassemble them into new houses.
This prototype exemplifies how 3D printing technology can be used for flexible home renovations, meeting the changing needs of communities. It encapsulates the dynamic nature of transitioning lifestyles at the intersection of tradition and modernity.
As 3D printing technology revolutionizes construction and architects push boundaries with innovative designs, these projects showcase the exciting possibilities of melding tradition and modernity, ultimately shaping the future of architectural innovation.
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