Invest WindsorEssex (IWE), the economic development organization for the Windsor-Essex region of Ontario, has showcased the design of a 3D printed home in virtual reality as part of a first-of-its-kind in Canada housing project led by Habitat for Humanity Windsor-Essex and in partnership with the University of Windsor.
Habitat for Humanity Windsor-Essex is a non-profit organization that aims to mobilize volunteers and community partners to build affordable housing and promote home ownership as a means to breaking the cycle of poverty.
This pilot project, set to be completed by April 2022, will result in four units (four-plex design) in a self-contained home and will be available through Habitat’s partnership with The Bridge Youth Resource Centre for individuals and couples in need of affordable housing in the municipality of Leamington.
It will be a historic build as the first 3D printed structure for residential use in Canada. An emerging technology, 3D printing could be a game-changing solution to the current housing crisis through increasing efficiency of building, promoting housing density and reducing costs associated with construction, says IWE.
“We are excited about this innovative solution to addressing the national housing crisis,” said Hilda MacDonald, mayor of the Municipality of Leamington. “We are very grateful the Municipality of Leamington was selected as the location of this first-of-its-kind fully accessible 3D multi-unit residential build.”
Through the IWE digital twinning program in partnership with St. Clair College, the IWE team, led by digital twin technician Bryan Holmes, used the computer-assisted design (CAD) model of the building and brought the home to life in its virtual reality (VR) Cave, which is an immersive and active virtual reality environment integrated with state-of-the-art hardware and software. This process identified how the new design would ultimately look and allowed builders to perform an accessibility audit on the homes to ensure they are fully accessible prior to construction, explains IWE.
IWE’s VR Cave is a facility that serves as a teaching, training, and research tool for the region and beyond, designed to support connected and autonomous vehicle development. VR provides many opportunities to aid in product development, including simulation, skills training, communication, and collaboration. Virtual prototyping allows products and processes to be tested before final verification with physical prototypes is performed.
The digital twin highlights what is possible when you utilize the latest technologies in both the design and building process to ensure efficiency and accuracy. IWE says it is excited to have worked with Habitat for Humanity Windsor-Essex and community partners to highlight how this cutting-edge building method can be used on future builds locally and across the country.
“The innovation required for this project goes beyond the printing technology. These will be tiny homes but we also want to make sure they are built for accessibility to meet the needs of all members of our community. At Habitat for Humanity our goal is always to build safe, decent and affordable homes,” said Fiona Coughlin, chief executive officer of Habitat for Humanity Windsor-Essex. “Through partnering with Invest WindsorEssex, we can be sure we do this before the homes physically exist.”