The World's Largest 3D-Printed Neighborhood Will Rise in Austin

And construction starts in 2022.
Ameya Paleja
Artist's rendering of the neighborhoodICON Build

Previously, we covered how 3D printing helps build quality infrastructure in Africa or how it can be deployed to build barracks for overseas U.S. troops. With further improvements, the technology is now becoming more mainstream, even in the U.S. It will now soon be used to build the largest neighborhood of 100 3D-printed homes in Austin, Texas. 

The ambitious project is a collaboration between Lennar Group, builders of homes in the U.S. since 1954, and ICON, a construction technologies company. The latter is known for printing an entire street of homes in Texas, as well as building the Mars Dune Alpha, a habitat for NASA astronauts to simulate life on Mars applying its Vulcan printing technology.

Making use of a proprietary building material called Lavacrete, ICON uses a robotic printing system that prints at the speed of 10 inches per second, resulting in quick builds. Houses on a Texan street were previously built in a maximum of seven days. 

The World's Largest 3D-Printed Neighborhood Will Rise in Austin
Artist's rendering of what the upcoming 3D-printed community will look like. Source: ICON

Better communities

"Construction-scale 3D printing not only delivers higher-quality homes faster and more affordably, but fleets of printers can change the way entire communities are built for the better," Jason Ballard, co-founder, and CEO of ICON said in the press release. According to Ballard, the U.S. currently faces a shortage of five million new homes that can be built quickly but "without compromising quality, beauty, or sustainability" using his company's technology. 

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The neighborhood planned in Austin, Texas is designed by BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group, a globally known team of architects and designers that offers contemporary living spaces, the press release said. Although using some conventional construction materials, the printed homes will also offer freedom of form, and feature curved walls. The construction company claims that its homes are energy efficient, and along with being built faster when compared to concrete masonry, create less waste.

The World's Largest 3D-Printed Neighborhood Will Rise in Austin
Artist's rendering of the 3D-printed neighborhood. Source: ICON

Built in compliance with the International Building Code (IBC), ICON claims that its homes can withstand extreme weather and can last as long — if not longer — than conventionally-built homes. The upcoming neighborhood planned for 2022 will also feature photovoltaic roofs, making them sustainable and energy self-sufficient, per the press release. 

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