Thick and Thin: The Future for Walls as Solid Masses or Delicate Layers
Authors: Marriage, Guy
While houses built from engineered timber products such as cross‐laminated timber are an
excellent structural construction solution, the mass house construction market in New Zealand still sticks
with more traditional construction methods centred on individual sticks of timber. These traditional
methods are however still reliant on timber sizes that are relatively weighty and volumetrically large, in
relation to more advanced cladding systems such as cars or planes, where thin skins of cladding are
carefully wrapped over a lightweight but structurally rigorous framework. This paper examines current
and future walls, including possible structural solutions such as the stressed skin matrix and monocoque
construction methods that are widely used in vehicles. Comparisons are made with other technologies
where recent advances in large‐scale 3D printing have created entire houses fabricated from liquidised
amorphous substances. Can they be reliably considered as practical building systems for the future?
Recent advances in 3D printing are multiplying, including the ability to sinter solids directly from sand,
being explored as a possible future for building “off‐shore” constructions. The paper draws upon advances
being worked in freeform 3D printing and real‐life building projects as well as examining the future of
student‐led research into digitally‐led building construction systems.