Architecture

"World's largest" 3D-printed neighborhood to be built in Texas

"World's largest" 3D-printed n...
The basic structure of the houses will be constructed using Icon's own Vulcan 3D printer, then human builders will come and finish off the roof, doors, windows and so on
The basic structure of the houses will be constructed using Icon's own Vulcan 3D printer, then human builders will come and finish off the roof, doors, windows and so on
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The 3D-printed housing development will be located in Austin, Texas
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The 3D-printed housing development will be located in Austin, Texas
The 3D-printed houses will be single-family units arranged on one floor
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The 3D-printed houses will be single-family units arranged on one floor
The basic structure of the houses will be constructed using Icon's own Vulcan 3D printer, then human builders will come and finish off the roof, doors, windows and so on
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The basic structure of the houses will be constructed using Icon's own Vulcan 3D printer, then human builders will come and finish off the roof, doors, windows and so on
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It's fair to say that Icon is dominating the 3D-printed construction space at the moment – both here on Earth and even potentially on Mars. Following its completion of four homes in Austin, Texas, the firm has now teamed up with homebuilder Lennar to create a remarkably ambitious new development consisting of 100 3D-printed family houses co-designed by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG).

The project, described by Lennar as the "world's largest neighborhood of 3D-printed homes," is slated for an undisclosed location in Austin. At this early stage, we've no word on the number of bedrooms or bathrooms they will contain, nor their size, but Icon did confirm that they will be single-family homes, all arranged on one floor. The homes will also feature roof-based solar panels installed to reduce their draw on the grid.

"Designed as a diverse collection of contemporary living spaces, the homes take on a variety of distinctive spatial concepts," explains Icon. "The design approach modernizes the aesthetic of the suburban home, while the 3D-printing technology texturizes and provides distinctive touchpoints for each space. The freedom of form facilitated by this building technology – including the sinuous curves of the walls – combines with traditional construction materials to create homes that are both aesthetically and physically unique."

The 3D-printed houses will be single-family units arranged on one floor
The 3D-printed houses will be single-family units arranged on one floor

The build process will be much the same as other 3D-printed construction projects we've reported on and will involve Icon's own Vulcan model 3D printer extruding a cement-like mixture out in layers to build up the basic structure of each home. Once the shell is complete, human builders will then come in and finish it off, adding a roof, doors, windows, and so on, as well as interior furniture.

The project is due to begin construction sometime in 2022. We expect to learn more details, including its completion date and cost, as it progresses. However, to put it into perspective, Icon's previous 3D-printed family homes fetched US$450,000.

Sources: Icon, Lennar

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7 comments
7 comments
FatFrass
Without steel reinforcement, the usefulness of this technique is pretty limited.
Does this use chopped fiberglass for reinforcement?
Gabe Ets-Hokin
This technology will alter architecture forever, but the environmental impact of single-family, single-story homes on large lots is problematic--can it be adapted to build denser, more-efficient housing?
Kevin Vandivier
I'm curious about the materials used and how they will leach gases into the homes themselves? I just want to build a home that can rest on a hovercraft in the air:)
mystixa
Just like other real estate 'deals'. This isn't quite a con, but its not really much to get excited about. They're capitalizing on the name of 3d printing to sell these things, without much of a design reason to do so. They're building the cheapest part of the house but still have to make the foundation and roof with normal methods. At the same time they make house finishing with wiring and plumbling harder to install, repair, and change at a later date. I like 3d printing.. but this doesn't seem like the best place for it.
aksdad
Icon has lost the thread here. The great advantage of 3D printing is the ability to prototype and fabricate custom parts more cheaply. With the median house price in Texas around $260k, using 3D printing to build homes that are a lot more expensive erases all the advantage of 3D printing. It just becomes a marketing gimmick. Never mind the fact that the walls aren't reinforced with rebar which is the state of the art in concrete fabrication and has been for over a century. This is glorified mud brick construction without the bricks.
Smokey_Bear
Awesome, this technology is what is going to make homes affordable again.
3D printing homes still has a ways to go, and will take decades to perfect, but you gotta start somewhere.
I think (Germany) "Apis Cor" printing has a cleaner look to it, plus they can do 90 degree corners.
But "Mighty Buildings" can print horizontally with no supports under it.
Plenty of innovation going on out there!
JasonBurr
I have been watch the CBS houses going up in my neighborhood and not much rebar there. Just in the foundation (these built using standard practice) and few odd spots where reinforcement is needed (like complex shapes, arches, etc).

As far is plumbing most CBS houses have that in the foundation. Changes require a jack hammer. Electrical all in the attic and drops down into the walls from above.

I wonder if they place the door and window frames as the printer works? Or just come back later and either wet saw the opening to fit or frame in existing and caulk the gap?

I could see this for more robotic building with less laborers (builder's best interest). Or as a technique for building a complex shape as requested by home owner.