Ambitious 3D-printed, 100-home neighborhood being constructed in Texas
Though it currently makes up a tiny slice of the housing market, 3D-printed architecture is growing incredibly fast and it's possible to imagine large numbers of Americans living in robot-constructed homes in the near-future. Leading the charge is Icon, which is moving forward on a plan it revealed last year to build a new neighborhood in Texas made up of 100 3D-printed homes.
The project, named the Genesis Collection at Wolf Ranch, is currently under construction in Georgetown, near Austin (Icon is based in Austin). Alongside Icon, the project also involves Hillwood Communities and Lennar, while the homes themselves were designed by high-profile architecture firm Bjarke Ingels Group.
"For the first time in the history of the world, what we're witnessing here is a fleet of robots building an entire community of homes," said Jason Ballard, co-founder and CEO, Icon. "And not just any homes, homes that are better in every way… better design, higher strength, higher energy performance and comfort, and increased resiliency. In the future, I believe robots and drones will build entire neighborhoods, towns, and cities, and we'll look back at Lennar's Wolf Ranch community as the place where robotic construction at scale began. We still have a long way to go, but I believe this marks a very exciting and hopeful turn in the way we address housing issues in the world."
As with previous Icon projects, the homes are being constructed in place using its own Vulcan 3D printer. The build process will involve the 3D printers extruding a cement-like proprietary mixture called Lavacrete out of a nozzle in layers, building up the structure. Human builders will then finish it all off by adding a metal roof, doors, windows, and whatever else is required.
There will be eight different styles of residence, ranging in size from 1,574 - 2,112 sq ft (146 - 196 sq m). The homes will be spread over one floor and provide three or four bedrooms and up to four bathrooms. Their overall design is influenced by traditional Texas ranches and, judging from the renders at least, the interiors look attractive and light-filled, with those telltale ribbed walls showing they're 3D-printed rather than built using traditional methods.
The houses will reduce their grid-based energy usage with a solar panel system and will pack some smart home tech like a Ring Video Doorbell, Wi-Fi-operated lock, and a smart thermostat, as well as a security package.
Though Icon has produced very affordable housing for homeless people in Mexico and Austin, the Genesis Collection at Wolf Ranch will be priced more in line with the firm's recently completed 3D-printed homes, also in Austin, and are expected to fetch around US$450,000 each. Pre-orders will be available sometime in 2023 but those so inclined can register interest now.
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What are the "designers of the future" thinking along those lines?
Great marketing, but the reality is this is nonsense.