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Dubai to house world’s first 3D-printed Mosque

12 May 2023

In 2018, just as 3D Printing was starting to take off as construction method, but Dubai wanted to become the 3D printing capital of the world, and aimed for a quarter of its new buildings to be printed, or rather conventionally constructed.

The Dubai Municipality building grew to be the world’s largest 3D printed structure in 2019, and the city continued to work on its goal, breaking its own record. Now, an even bigger building, the first-of-its-kind, the world’s first 3D-printed Mosque will be built in Dubai this year.

Spanning 2000 square metres, the Mosque will accommodate 600 people, and will have more than twice the square footage of the Municipal Building. The Mosque, is a collaboration with Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department (IACAD) and architectural firm JT & Partners. A construction company will also be involved, but the name has not yet been released.

The Municipality building was built by Boston-based Apis Cor. The new project could be taken up by them again, or it could be handed over to a new group.

As for the design of the Mosque, it appears to be far more intricate than often seen in 3D-printed buildings. Majority of the houses or other structures made with this technology often have solid, flat walls. The 3D-printed walls are squirted out of a printed nozzle one layer after another, with the concrete rapidly drying and gaining strength. Homes or apartment buildings built this way are generally durable, and structurally sound, although not much experimentation has been done with complex designs.

The Dubai Mosque shows tall, angled pillars, linked by lattice-like panels that allow entry of daylight. The main building’s soaring ceiling, stretches over a second smaller building, bringing in an open space between the two, creating a wide, airy corridor.

Theo Salet, dean of Department of Built Environment at Eindhoven University Netherlands, and a long-time advocate of 3D-printed construction, is also supportive of Dubai Mosque project. He acknowledges that some aspects of its construction would be uncharted territory and may not be easy.

Some of the challenges may be that the cost savings of 3D printed construction may not be as worthwhile as all the hype implies, and it may not be eco-friendly, since the technology uses cement, a major source of carbon emissions.

However, projects such as the Dubai Mosque will push the edges of 3D printing construction capability, both in terms of scale and complexity.

Robin Vinod

Writer/blogger who writes on topics such as travel, real estate, employment and everyday life on GCC countries.

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