Interview: The first one piece 3D printed house

A world first! Kamp C, the Westerlo-based provincial Centre for Sustainability and Innovation in construction, printed a house using the largest 3D concrete printer in Europe.  An interview with Annelies Helsen about ViCre's role in the world first 90-square house printed in one piece.

The house was printed as part of the European C3PO Project. How did ViCre get involved?

Annelies Helsen: we are a non-substantive player in the Construction Industry. We guide national and international companies of different sectors in their innovation and transformation journey and we make sure that this transformation is supported by the employees and environment. Thanks to the distance between the day to day reality of our customers and our reality, we bring the necessary neutrality.

Could you describe ViCre's role in Co-Creation projects in a few words?

Annelies: In a nutshell: we bring an helicopter view to the project, and make sure that the partners move in synergy from A to B. In our role we safeguard the following starting points:

  • The noses in the same direction
  • The focus on the market
  • And the right rhythm, guaranteeing the progress

What convinced you to contribute to this particularly challenging project?

A.: We were immediately convinced to contribute to C3PO. First of all, because of the innovation and transformation aspect: as well the strategic as the implementation part of innovation and transformation is our core business, our hobby. For us, it seemed thus very valuable to contribute to a possible (r)evolution in the Construction Industry. Secondly, because we experience that Corporate Social Responsibility becomes more and more important. Contributing to a project that leads to a sustainable, more ecological technique in the Construction Industry, fits perfectly in this perspective.

Given your experience with Innovation and Transformation projects, what did you anticipate to manage?

A.: It is a project with many partners, all with different professional backgrounds. This is fun and interesting, but also complex. Each of them joined from their own point of view, with their own goals in mind.

Upon the start of any project, every project partner needs to feel that by working together, they will get something in return. Everyone wants to experience some added value at the end of the day: by building deep industry knowledge, improving their network, creating brand exposure, encountering business opportunities, …

How did you overcome these differences?

A.: The different starting points and goals from each partner were are first challenge: getting the noses pointing in the same direction and keeping this direction. With the necessary iterations and by keeping the necessary distance, we came to a uniform vision supported by all the partners.

The second challenge was to focus also on the market, and not to get lost in the technical aspects of the project. One by one the partners are specialists in their profession. Out of experience we know that specialist easily lose themselves in the product technical part. Bringing the focus back to the market, to the target group was crucial, as well during the Identifications phase as during the Launch phase.

Guaranteeing the progress and keeping the right rhythm during Development and Printing the house was the third challenge.

What are the next steps?

A.: Setting the vision with different partners, was the first part of co-creation. The second part of co-creation is yet to come. New partners will join and will cooperate to find solutions. Solutions to what and what they will look like, we don’t know yet. However, what we do know is that we will follow the same approach.

Can you share that approach with us?

A.: Of course, take the 5 following steps, and success is guaranteed:

  1. Set scope and direction of prioritized project
  2. Align on the plan
  3. Create solution
  4. Contribute individually
  5. Manage progress and iterate

Iterate. Repeat these 5 steps over and over, until you have reached your goal. Find the right rhythm. It’s a dynamic process, requiring continuous fine-tuning and real-time adjustments. Communication is key. Especially with transformation and innovation projects , who often seem to be (too) big. Provide enough feedback loops in your project architecture to keep it agile.

Even if your project is the size of a whale, it should always move like a pod of dolphins.


This article is part of the C3PO project. The partners received € 668,320 in European grants through C3PO, an ERDF project (‘Co-creation: 3D-printing with companies). The project is also a part of GTI Kempen (GTI stands for Gerichte Territoriale Investering in Dutch, or an integrated territorial investment strategy for a specific region, combining various European funds and programmes).