There is no denying it: we are in a global housing crisis, and traditional home-building methods are not going to solve it. The poor and homeless of course are the most affected by this lack of affordable housing. There have been several solutions involving tiny homes and community projects, however, one is proving that it might just be the answer we’ve all been looking for: 3D printed homes.
Affordable 3D Printed Homes by ICON to End Homelessness
With a combination of design creativity and technological innovation, ICON is changing the game in the world of affordable housing for all. They have created robot technology that allows them to build 3D printed homes in a cost-efficient way. Partnered with the non-profit organization Mobile Loaves & Fishes, they are looking to build the first Community First! Village in Austin, Texas.
“ICON is pushing the envelope and is technologically laying out a new way of looking at how we build homes,” says Mobile Loaves & Fishes CEO Alan Graham.
The goal is to build an entire neighborhood capable of housing at least 40% of Austin’s homeless population using ICON’s technology.
The First Building
The welcome center itself is a gorgeous little building. Standing at 500 square feet, it was designed by Logan Architecture over several days and then constructed in just 27 hours. It features black, white, and natural wood. The interior design was done by designer Claire Zinnecker and home goods company Industry West. The idea is to not just make affordable homes for people, but ones that are actually enjoyable to live in and can help people make positive changes in their lives.
Not Just in Texas
ICON isn’t just working on building a village in Austin. As we said, homelessness is a global issue and ICON wants to use their 3D printing technology to help people all over the world. Currently, they are working with non-profit New Story to build a 50 home village in Tabasco, Mexico. (2,
3D House Printing Technology
All of this is possible using a combination of robotics, digital software, and advanced materials, with the star of the show being ICON’s 3D printing technology, named the Vulcan I. This special machine (4):
- Is mobile
- Prints continuously on-site
- Weighs 2000 pounds
- Can print walls up to 8.5 feet tall and foundations up to 28 feet wide at a speed of 5 to 7 inches per second
- Is waste-free
- Is weather resistant
- Requires a crew of just 4 to 6 people to operate
- Comes with an integrated tablet-based operating system
All buildings built by the Vulcan I are done so with Lavacrete, ICON’s Portland-based cement mix that is easy to source, incredibly strong, resilient to extreme weather conditions, and allows buildings to be built quickly and affordably. (4)
Read: Man Converts Ambulance Into Tiny Home on Wheels for $13,000
Affordability is the biggest hurdle that ICON is attempting to get over. They want these homes to be as affordable as possible.
Currently, a 3D-printed home from the Vulcan printer costs $10,000 US. The company says they have plans to lower that cost all the way down to just $4000.
All of this depends on several factors, including:
- Equipment failures
- How long walls should dry for
As always happens with projects such as this one, it will be a constant battle as more and more obstacles come up.
ICON could very well be the future of affordable housing in countries around the world. If you want to know more about the company and its upcoming projects, go to its website.
Keep Reading: Formerly Homeless Man Moves Into the First 3D-Printed Tiny Home
1. “New Story and ICON Unveil the First Permitted 3D-Printed Home” ICON. March 2018.
2. “Printing Homes for the Homeless in Austin” ICON. September 2019.
3. “How ICON Is Building the $4,000 3D-Printed Homes of the Future” Dwell. February 2019.
This article originally appeared on The Hearty Soul in June 2020 and has been published here with permission.