South Africa tries 3D-printed homes to provide affordable housing

By Laureen Fagan - 9 February 2023 at 10:02 pm
South Africa tries 3D-printed homes to provide affordable housing

South Africa is facing a shortage of more than 23 million houses, and Dr. Blade Nzimande, the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, says 3-D printed houses—built entirely in just eight hours— may be the solution to help meet demand.

“It is a quick way to build good quality houses and the whole process also has a much smaller impact on the environment,” said Nzimande, speaking at a recent event launch on the Doornfontein Campus of the University of Johannesburg. The university is partnering with the ministry, which is funding the housing project, as well as the Department of Human Settlements in KwaZulu-Natal.

University civil engineering expert Jeffrey Mahachi says that building 3D-printed houses isn’t just fast. It’s cost-effective, too, and the quality is excellent.

Tshilidzi Marwala, the university’s outgoing vice chancellor, explained that 3D printing, or additive manufacturing, is now possible in a number of industries that rely on digital models to deliver the physical objects. For houses, the 3D printer uses a special cement that dries faster than products typically used in construction.

“If we invest seriously in this technology, we can quickly provide our people with decent and strong housing,” said Marwali. That would be a step forward in ending the informal settlements that many South Africans call home, but where they live without adequate safety and services.

Image: University of Johannesburg

Laureen Fagan

Laureen Fagan

Laureen is the editor of Africa Times

Laureen is a freelance journalist creating high-quality, informed content on international affairs, politics and technology. She has worked both in and out of newsrooms since 2000. She is a former paramedic with significant experience in community resilience and nonprofit community development initiatives, and maintains "a passion for action" on sustainability and climate change. She also is trained in conflict resolution and diversity, and has special interests in science and medical reporting, and culture and religion issues. Laureen received her MSJ from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism in the United States, and completed additional graduate study in theology at University of Notre Dame. Follow Laureen on Mastodon at

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