- 100 3D-printed homes will be created by construction companies BIG and ICON, forming a neighbourhood in Austin, Texas.
- Each home will be printed using ICON's Vulcan construction system, which uses controlled robotic machines to create layers of Lavacrete (cement mix).
- 3D printing technology can produce energy-efficient homes faster than conventional construction methods with less waste and more design freedom.
Scheduled to break ground in 2022, the scheme will be the world's largest community of 3D-printed homes when it completes, according to Texan firm ICON.
Co-designed with Danish architecture studio BIG, the community is set to be built on an unconfirmed site in the city. More details of the houses' floor plans and design will be announced next year.
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How are 3D-printed homes built?
Each 3D-printed home will be printed using ICON's Vulcan construction system, which uses controlled robotic machines to create layers of Lavacrete – a propriety Portland Cement-based mix made by the company.
"ICON's 3D printing technology produces resilient, energy-efficient homes faster than conventional construction methods with less waste and more design freedom," said ICON.
"Designed and engineered from the ground up for volume 3D-printing of homes with precision and speed, ICON's Vulcan construction system can deliver homes and structures up to 3,000 square feet," it continued.
What is the World Economic Forum doing to support the Future of Real Estate?
While investable real estate has grown by more than 55% since 2012 (PwC), the COVID-19 crisis has underscored weaknesses in relation to human and planetary health along with drastic inequalities, leaving a stark reminder of the influence the built environment has on societies and the vulnerabilities that exist in times of crisis regarding how spaces perform.
As the real estate industry looks towards recovery, the need for transformation is clear. Portfolios must be rebalanced, and distressed assets repurposed. Technology must be fully embraced, and sustainability and wellness must be at the core of design and operation. The affordable housing crisis that already existed pre COVID-19 must be systemically approached to ensure access to adequate and affordable housing. If the Real Estate industry is to deliver transformation, it is more important than ever to ensure that policy, financing and business solutions are aligned in delivering better buildings and cities.
The World Economic Forum has brought together CEOs from the Real Estate industry to develop a Framework for the Future of Real Estate to help drive the industry’s transition to a healthier, more affordable, resilient and sustainable world.
According to the firm, the neighbourhood of houses will be built to the International Building Code (IBC) structural code standard.
ICON also said that it expects its Vulcan-printed homes to last "as long or longer" than those built with concrete masonry units (CMUs).
Homebuilding company Lennar will fit each neutrally-coloured house with gabled roofs that will feature photovoltaic panels.
"Our design approach modernises the aesthetic of the suburban home, while the 3D-printing technology texturises and provides distinctive touchpoints for each space," added ICON.
"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 neighbourhood of 3D-printed homes will follow four recently completed houses in East Austin, Texas that were also constructed using Vulcan technology called the East 17th Street Residences.
Other 3D-printed housing projects around the world include an Italian dome-shaped, low-carbon house prototype made from clay and the Netherland's first lived-in 3D-printed home that resembles a grey boulder.