Jan. 23, 2013 at 1:01 PM ET
A Dutch architect has designed a building that will be a single large piece from floor to ceiling, and plans to build it using a giant 3-D printing system.
The "Landscape House" was designed by Janjaap Ruijssenaars, of Universe Architecture, and is built on the principle of Möbius strips. Created by twisting a two-dimensional surface (like a strip of paper) slightly and then connecting the ends, these enigmatic structures effectively have only one side.
Walk along the floor, and you'll soon find yourself on the ceiling, then the roof, then the underside. Or, at least, you would if you could, and if Ruijssenaars hadn't built stairs and walkways into the structure. As you can see in the diagram, the building's footprint is roughly triangular and folds on itself in a way that makes it difficult to visualize how it would appear in real life.
Regardless of how confusing it seems on paper, it's structurally sound and the firm plans to build it using the innovative "D-Shape" industrial printing method. D-Shape is essentially a huge additive 3-D printer that lays down layers of a sand-based, "marble-like" material.
The inventor of the process, Enrico Dini, claims that the resulting compound is superior to common cement and does not require reinforcement, although Landscape House's unconventional shape and size will in fact need it. It will also have to be produced in a few pieces and assembled, though the end result will be a single continuous structure.
The D-Shape machinery is precise to within 5 to 10 millimeters, meaning large objects like stairs and walls can be easily formed, but finer structures will have to be adjusted by hand. Smaller 3-D printers, on the other hand, are good enough that they can nearly reproduce the sound of a vinyl record.
The cost for each building, presumably not including furnishings, plumbing, and wiring, is around $5 million to $6 million. Ruijssenaars told the BBC that there is already interest among museums and private individuals; the first is planned for completion in 2014.
Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBCNews Digital. His personal website is coldewey.cc.