This Vending Machine Will Dispense…Homes!

published on 01 May 2017
Technological advances have made architecture a fascinating field. Sometimes it seems as if the sci-fi ideas found in books and films are on the cusp of becoming a reality. And sometimes the ideas have been floated by avant-garde architects and have lain in wait for the technology that will make them possible.

Here's one such concept: a skyscraper dispensing 3-D printed homes. Amazing, right? But not impossible, according to Haseef Rafiei, a Malaysian-born architecture student at the University of Manchester. He drew his inspiration from the 1960s Metabolist Movement in Japan. As he explains on his website, the architects behind this movement "envisioned plug-in technologies and design concepts that would revolutionize how cities function."

The Pod Vending Machine, as Rafiei has called his project, will provide both commercial and residential units. A gigantic 3-D printer will sit above the building, producing ready-to-use pods immediately available for purchase and installation. Buyers will decide on the number of pods and the amenities they want. The pods will then be printed and plugged into the structure. This means that the building will grow as new modules are added. 

In theory, homeowners can also choose the location for their pods. However, structural safety requires that the software calculations have the final say on this matter, Rafiei told Forbes contributor Eustacia Huen. 

The concept aims to address the problem of housing shortages but also that of materials and resources waste. Rafiei notes that many construction projects get abandoned, which sometimes requires the investment of public money to get them going again. Rafiei's design won an honorable mention at the 2017 eVolo Skyscraper Competition.