The Institute of Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC) and UN-Habitat present an innovative project, which strives to develop, test, and implement innovative architectural and planning solutions for people in selected urban and rural areas in Africa. This project will take place within the context of the OTF – 3D Printing Architecture programme, a post-graduate programme of IAAC which focuses on the use of additive manufacturing, the process of joining materials layer upon layer to create objects from 3D model data. Students use this technology to develop and prototype sustainable architecture models.

This project builds upon the research undertaken by students in the OTF – 3D Printing Architecture programme, where students are invited to explore the possibilities of using local recyclable materials for housing solutions, engaging the population in the construction process, as well as on the possibility of developing answers to complex humanitarian situations.

The Proposal

IAAC and UN-Habitat seek a collaboration that is centred around the exchange of knowledge and expertise in the hopes of developing technological and architectural solutions to answer the current needs and challenges of the habitats in the selected locations throughout Africa.

The goal of the project is to apply additive technology to three separate issues going on in three locations, to create societal transformations. The first issue is the floods of Suleja, in Suleja Nigeria. In Suleja, the Iku river consistently floods during three months of the year, destroying homes and threatening people’s safety. There are currently no alternative sites where people can relocate during floods. To solve these issues, IAAC and UN-Habitat will collaborate on creating a flood mitigation system, building housing from locally sourced materials, and creating a public green space on the riverbank. These structures will be constructed using robotics, 3D printing, and additive technology. When the government has secured a more permanent place for people to relocate, the housing structures will be recycled back into the earth.

The next work site is Yaounde, Cameroon. The site is characterized by a newly constructed Highway called “Urban Corridor”, which runs through the city and has resulted in unprecedented urban growth in the last 40 years. The busy highway produces high levels of air and noise pollution in the surrounding area. The expansion of the highway has recently halted however, due to difficulties finding places to relocate the population who reside in the path of the highway. The collaborative team seeks to solve these issues and expand upon the community by using 3D printing, robotics, and local materials, to construct dwellings, create sound barriers, and create air filtration devices.

The final work site is Kukuma City, where hundreds of thousands of refugees have migrated to in the past few years, resulting in a massive issue of overpopulation. This has resulted in poor access to healthcare, water, education, sanitation, and housing. The team has developed a collaborative approach to solving these issues, using additive manufacturing, local materials, and craftsmen to create flexible living/ working spaces, climate responsive architecture, and a stable economy.

About the Institute of Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC)

Created in 2001, the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC) is a centre for research, education, production and outreach, with the mission of envisioning the future habitat of our society and building it in the present. IAAC follows the digital revolution at all scales (from bits to geography, from micro-controllers to cities, from materials to the territory) to expand the boundaries of architecture and design and meet the challenges faced by humanity. IAAC is an experimental and experiential centre where one learns by doing, through a test methodology that promotes real solutions. IAAC is an open, independent and radical non-profit foundation; inspired by the values of Barcelona, the capital of architecture and design, where urbanism was invented and where a local high quality and innovation-oriented research is connected to an international network of excellence in technology, architecture and society fields.


About UN-Habitat

UN-Habitat is an organization mandated by the United Nations General Assembly to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all. They are based in over 90 countries worldwide, where they address the issue of urban growth, and work to ensure that cities become inclusive and affordable drivers of economic growth, social development, and environmental change.