Making and Thinking



In the north of Sweden, a constellation of industrial and academic partners are about to start a three year journey to build a wooden house using additive manufacturing, and to work with the aim of making Norrland a leading region in the field of innovative and sustainable construction. In writing a recent national innovation agenda for additive manufacturing [1], a process led by Umeå University, it was concluded amongst other things that Sweden, a nation of early adopters with rich natural resources, has excellent potential to lead the development of software for digital fabrication, design of and for new digital fabrication methods as well as the development and production of new mineral and bio-based pastes and powders for additive manufacturing. The area of construction and large scale 3D printing also emerged as a specifically interesting one for development. Lack of research and development in this area endangers Sweden, which has always had huge export of minerals and timber for use in conventional construction, of marginalisation in a rapidly growing contemporary industry. The conclusion from writing the agenda and of the discussions that followed on from it was that research and development should be carried out in the area of 3D printed houses, and that Umeå Arts Campus with its' strong pool of talent and networks would be a natural place to build a playground for industry and academy. Thus +Project was born- an ambitious innovation project centred on 3D printed sustainable housing- planned in collaboration between academia, industry and visionary city developers. +Project is organised in three parts: +U, +House and +Labrary.


Building on Sliperiet as a multidisciplinary platform for collaboration and innovation, we are creating a playground for innovators in the area of sustainability, large format 3D printing, new disruptive business models, new methods of design and production in architecture and housing, critical making and materials for additive manufacturing. Our ambition is to create a truly diverse and multidisciplinary meeting place with a strong local anchoring and global networks with links to the most innovative thinkers, makers and organisations around the world. Umeå School of Business and Economics will provide a backbone of research into circular sustainable business models. In collaboration with Revenues innovation consultants and Nätverket för Hållbart Byggande, a group of sixty local businesses in the building industry, we will make sure research and academic infrastructure is made available to entrepreneurs and SMEs interested in developing innovative and sustainable new business models, products and services. 


Here, an open maker space and showroom will be made available to researchers, architects, makers, designers, students, educators, engineers and entrepreneurs. +Labrary will facilitate large format 3D printing in bio-based materials. Alongside continuous experimentation and prototyping, interesting materials, successful artefacts and new ideas will be presented and displayed in the digital and physical space as a way for a wider audience to access the project. SP Processum, a research institute based at a technology park and leading biorefinery initiative in Örnsköldsvik, will develop a number of cellulose based pilot materials to experiment with in the custom built machines. An important aspect in the success of +Labrary will be ensuring the accessibility of the technical platform to a diverse and enthusiastic community of makers, and involvement of this community in the building and development of machines and software.


In 2018 a 3D printed house will be unveiled. It will have been developed in a multidisciplinary collaboration between academic, commercial and public partners. The house will showcase innovations from the region and ask questions about the concept of the home, propose new systems of the production of housing and invite the public to explore makerly opportunities. The house will be situated in a future Smart City of Umeå, it will interact with society and make makers of its' inhabitants. The design of +House will be led by Umeå School of Architecture whose aim in the context of this project is to develop a working understanding of how Architects will operate in the Age of Ecology, Logistics and Network Technologies, relative to the production of a prototype house. In order to achieve this the School will contribute in three key area; firstly, to lead exploration of the formal design of a home through the merging of its software and hardware relational to its' physical and social performance requirements. Secondly, to engage with the project partners and SME's to establish how emerging technologies and material production process can be integrated into the design of a new home. Finally, to investigate how additive manufacturing technology and its' embedded knowledge can be transferred to small-scale independent house builders and Do-It-Yourself Communities. The ambition of the School of Architecture is to contribute to the design and technological development of the future house while exploring new forms of aesthetics invented in collaboration between industry, education and society. Within +House, the Informatics Department at Umeå University will explore how artificial and natural lighting can be applied and controlled, for instance how 3D printed materials can maximise and transport light through buildings. Interactive Institute (Swedish ICT) will develop a smart grid and methods of incorporating sensors and conductive materials in building materials as part of a concept named Internet of Spaces. The setup will allow +House a digital dimension, where new platforms for interaction can be enabled and opportunities to explore for instance the design of digital interiors and the overview and control of energy flows. The Department for Applied Physics and Electronics at Umeå University will in this context contribute to the development and application of methods for measuring +House in relation to energy consumption and sustainability. 


+Project is coordinated by Sliperiet at Umeå University. To find out how you can contribute, please contact


Making and Thinking