In the city of Eindhoven, located in the Netherlands, Europe’s first inhabitants of a 3D printed house have just moved in. The honour fell to Elize Lutz and Harrie Dekkers, retired shopkeepers from Amsterdam, who will live in the 3D printed house for six months.

The house is the first legally habitable and commercially rented property, where its main structure has been created by a 3D printer.

The house is shaped like a boulder and consists of 24 concrete elements that were printed layer by layer at a plant in Eindhoven, and created by 3D printing a specifically formulated cement. This cement was then used to create load-bearing walls and other elements necessary for the house.

The shape of the house, a boulder, was chosen to let the house fit in with the surrounding greenery and to demonstrate that nearly every shape is possible with this new house-building technique.

The 3D printing technique realises new types of house shapes that would have been nearly impossible to make with traditional house-building techniques. This allows for more flexibility and personalised design for the inhabitants of future printed properties.

The new method is more environmentally friendly than its traditional house-building peers. It can reduce the environmental damage, that is usually inflicted upon the environment when building new properties, by reducing the amount of cement that is used.

Apart from the environmental friendliness and design flexibility, the 3D printing technique is also quicker. “If you look at what time we actually needed to print this house it was only 120 hours,” said Bas Huysmans, chief executive of Weber Benelux, the construction firm behind the 3D-printed house. “So all the elements, if we would have printed them in one go, it would have taken us less than five days.”

This speed is no unnecessary luxury as a shortage in the Dutch housing market has been a problem for years. Realising new houses as quickly as five days might offer a solution.

Not everyone is convinced though that this new speedy building technique will help the current housing market crisis. Eindhoven councilor Yasin Torunoglu, who has supported the 3D printing experiment from the beginning, sees it as an investment for the future of building homes rather than a quick fix for the problems on the Dutch housing market today.

He expects that 3D printed houses might become a staple in house-building techniques for the future and is, therefore, more than willing to already invest in it.