The news that a Chinese company has successfully 3D printed ten houses in 24 hours rapidly, cheaply and with a bare-bones workforce offers a window into the future for sustainable development in Africa’s urban planning. On top of cost, time and labour benefits, there are other affordances in the 3D printing of houses that are applicable to climate change adaptation in Africa: resource efficiency, customisation of the architecture to the environment, novel structural design sensibilities and waste management and recycling. There are now plans to 3D print houses in resource-constrained environments beyond earth, on Mars, using ‘in situ’ materials.
While not on the same scale as other planets, African cities are resource-constrained environments with high levels of poverty, environmental degradation and pollution, and unchecked urban migration and expansion. Beyond coping with the current conditions, Africa’s urban citizens are vulnerable to the projected impacts of climate change in the not-so-distant future. In response to a pending catastrophe of planetary scale, this project inquires: what if 3D printers could be harnessed to retrofit Africa’s urban spaces to be more resilient to climate change?
This project examines the intersection of climate change and urbanisation in order to understand more about: (1) 3D printing of infrastructure for assisting grassroots adaptation to climate change in Ghana’s urban planning future; (2) The impacts of climate change-urbanisation interaction on sustainable development across different urban contexts; and (3) Urban planning policies/projects directed towards resilience in housing and transport demand for growing populations facing climate change, and their efficacy.