Heijmans, the innovative Dutch construction company behind the smart highway and glowing Van Gogh-inspired bicycle paths, has unveiled their latest avant-garde project: a 3D-printed steel bridge in the heart of Amsterdam.
Created in collaboration with Dutch startup MX3D and designed by Dutch designer Joris Laarman, the 3D-printed pedestrian bridge is part of Heijmans’ aspirations of building the “spatial contours of tomorrow.” Multi-axis industrial robots will construct the pedestrian bridge using cost-effective and scalable technologies.
The goal behind the experimental 3D-printing project is the eventual creation of an automatic construction site. According to Jan van de Ven, Heijmans’ Manager of Business Development, an automatic construction site would not only be dependable and fully managed, but would also be environmentally friendly because of its energy-efficiency processes and minimization of construction waste. The use of 3D printing for construction purposes also has benefits in the design sector and, once popularized, can revolutionize the way we approach the design/build process.
“Construction and design are currently rather separate factors in construction – the architect designs something and the constructor interprets the design and builds what he thinks is needed,” says Jurre van der Ven, Heijmans’ Innovation Manager. “But using 3D printing for a bridge makes design and construction operate hand-in-hand. For instance, both activities are done at the same time, instead of first building the structure and then adding the design later. This means we will also have to start looking at design in a completely different manner.”
The location of the bridge has not yet been determined but will be announced soon. The pedestrian bridge will span one of Amsterdam’s old canals and has been described by designer Joris Laarman as a “fantastic metaphor for connecting the technology of the future with the city’s historic past, in a way which would reveal the best aspects of both worlds.” A visitor center will open in September 2015 and serve as an educational public space that will track the progress of the project.