NSW’s Studio Kite expands from building props to 3D-printed houses using waste plastic

Collaboration between Southern Cross University and Studio Kite sees the launch of 3D-printed ‘plastic’ houses.

An Australian partnership between industry and academia is seeking to reuse mountains of plastic waste by creating 3D-printed ‘plastic’ houses. Southern Cross University in Lismore and local model manufacturer Studio Kite are collaborating to use plastic waste, previously destined for landfill, to create affordable 3D printed modular housing.

Southern Cross University’s Northern Rivers Regional Circular Economy Accelerator (ReCirculator), a $2 million programme funded by the Australian government, is committed to rethinking the concept of waste. “The idea is that there is no waste, just different materials with different purposes,” said Professor Andrew Rose from the University. “By unlocking the value of a material from one phase of use to another, it enables a model for commercially sustainable and regenerative resource use and re-use.”

ReCirculator is supplying Studio Kite with plastic waste to use as feedstock for its giant 3D printer, called Cadzilla. Originally a manufacturer of movie props, Studio Kite has expanded its operations to include the printing of 3D houses. The company repurposes plastic waste to produce insulated, waterproof forms, which are customisable in shape and coated with high-performance cement and basalt fibre render. This ensures the forms are energy efficient, strong, durable, safe, and have a minimal carbon footprint.

Jindi: A 32 square metre 3D-printed modular home designed as a self-supporting arch structure with a fire-resistant exterior and plaster interior.
Jindi: A 32 square metre 3D-printed modular home designed as a self-supporting arch structure with a fire-resistant exterior and plaster interior.

Professor Dirk Erler from Southern Cross University highlighted the context for this initiative. “Australia was sending a lot of plastic waste overseas, especially to China,” he explained. “China then changed its policy regarding accepting plastics from other countries so the waste has just been stockpiled in Australia. There are warehouses all over Australia filled with piles of plastic.”

Watch their story

Studio Kite has already launched its first 3D-printed house, named Jindi. The structure is a 32-square metre modular home, designed as a self-supporting arch with a fire-resistant exterior and plaster interior. The company claims it offers exceptional insulation, with a vermiculite-filled wall cavity ranging from 100 mm to 300 mm, creating excellent passive thermal insulation. The formula combines a 3D-printed form made from 100% repurposed plastic, coated with fibre-reinforced high-performance cement to enhance longevity.

“We are working out how well the materials perform, not just with structural integrity but also how long it will last over the years,” said Studio Kite’s director Steve Rosewell. “Coming from a theatrical and props building process and sculpting background, we wanted to perfect the building system but also make them attractive. We don’t have to do square boxes; we can do interesting shapes. Everyone says they are really spacious; that is because there are no corners.”

A 32-square metre Jindi studio apartment ready to move into starts from under $100,000. A two-bedroom, 60-square metre house costs from $200,000. Land and services are not included in these prices.

See: https://www.studiokite.com/

Sign up to the Built Offsite Newsletter