This start-up is 3D-printing an entire neighbourhood in Mexico

children in front of a 3D-printed home in Mexico

New Story is using 3D printing to build secure homes for families in Tabasco, Mexico. Image: Joshua Perez/New Story

Sean Fleming
Senior Writer, Formative Content
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  • New Story and two Mexican construction companies are building a neighborhood of 3D-printed homes in Tabasco, Mexico.
  • The secure 500-square-foot houses each have a living room, kitchen, bathroom and two bedrooms.
  • They will be available to 50 families, some of whom earn as little as $3 a day.

It rains a lot in the Mexican state of Tabasco. In a typical year, they get around two metres of rain – considerably more than London, a city notorious for its miserable weather.

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This kind of rain matters when you’re living in a makeshift home built out of whatever materials you could find. Cracks and gaps in roofs and walls let water in, causing flooding and making life extremely difficult for some of Mexico’s poorest people.

mexico housing boy
Makeshift homes are commonplace in Tabasco. Image: New Story/Joe Gonzales

But 50 of the poorest families in the state will soon move into brand-new 3D-printed homes.

Thanks to a collaboration between California-based New Story and two Mexican construction businesses, Icon and Échale, the first two 3D-printed houses have already been completed. "I think this home will change a lot of things for the better," said Angel Mario, father of two and future 3D-printed-home resident.

"Things will get better for my business because we will be in a place where there are going to be more families. The more people and families there are, the more I can sell. Being in this home, in this community, will better our economic situation and our personal lives as well."

modern homes mexico 3d printing
The new 3D homes are 500 square feet and built to last. Image: New Story/Joshua Perez
The future of housing?

The homes are built using a giant 3D printer, the Vulcan II. It creates them in pairs, with each house needing around 24 hours of total print time to complete. Using a specially mixed concrete that hardens quickly, the machine prints the structure in a series of layers, creating a ridge-effect in the walls.

This unconventional approach to house building could be the key to offering decent housing to some of the world’s poorest people, according to Brett Hagler, the CEO of New Story. “We feel it’s our responsibility to challenge traditional methods. Linear methods will never reach the billion-plus people who need safe homes,” he says.

family mother sons mexico
Work begins on a new two-bedroom house. Image: New Story/Joshua Perez

Despite improvements in economic performance in recent years, wages in Mexico trail behind much of the rest of the world and are a long way behind the OECD average. Median monthly family income in the state is just $76.50 – less than $3 per day to live on. It’s no surprise so many people in Tabasco said they don’t feel safe and secure in their homes.

graph info-graphic
Mexico's average wages are below the OECD average. Image: OECD

Feeling secure is something the developers have made a priority for residents. The new homes are built on reinforced foundations and have been designed to withstand earthquakes, which are common in the region.

And at 500 square feet, the houses have a living room, a kitchen, a bathroom and two bedrooms.

The project is one of several home-building programmes led by New Story. So far, it has built more than 2,500 homes in Haiti, El Salvador, Bolivia and Mexico. The Tabasco project is the first 3D-printed community.

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