Icon takes the initiative with affordable 3D-printed homes competition
Leading 3D printing firm Icon has revealed an ambitious competition that aims to revolutionize affordable housing. Named Initiative 99, it will solicit designs for 3D-printed homes that can be constructed for under US$99,000.
For those unfamiliar with the technology, 3D-printed architecture typically works as follows: a large 3D printer extrudes a cement-like mixture out of a nozzle in layers, following a digital plan to build up the basic structure of the home. Humans then install the roof, windows, door, plus anything else that's left to do. Icon has been at the forefront of the burgeoning tech for a while now with its popular Vulcan printer and has produced everything from an out-of-this-world habitat for NASA to architect-designed ranch-like homes.
Ever since 3D printers first started being used by hobbyists to build quirky structures, their potential to produce affordable homes has been a fairly obvious next step. Though there has definitely been some notable success in this regard, including Icon's own Mexican housing and Apis Cor's compact home, affordable 3D-printed homes haven't yet taken off in a big way and the vast majority of 3D-printed housing projects we report on are built to standard market value with prices approximately matching standard brick-and-mortar housing. However, Icon aims to change all this with the new competition.
"With Initiative 99, we are changing the way that we talk about affordable housing," explained Icon CEO Jason Ballard in a press release. "When we talk about affordable housing, the conversation is often depressing and so are the results. Our goal is that Initiative 99 would in turn create the conditions for affordable housing to be something hopeful, optimistic and exciting, and furthermore catalyzes the building of some really incredible affordable homes that just years ago would not have even been possible. The future could be a wonder, but we have to all work together to make it so."
The competition, which will officially start accepting registrations shortly, will be open to architects from all over the world, including firms, individual designers, and university students. It will run for approximately one year and there will be a total prize fund of $1 million, though it's not yet clear how many winners this will be divided between. Icon says that it's committed to building a selection of the winning designs at multiple locations, which will be announced in the future.
Naturally, we'll be back to report on the new affordable house designs as soon as they are announced.