Although currently only a tiny part of the housing market, 3D printed architecture is growing incredibly fast and it is possible to envision large numbers of Americans living in robot-built homes in the near future. At the helm is Icon, which is pushing ahead with a plan it unveiled last year to build a new neighborhood in Texas made up of 100 3D-printed houses.
The project, called Genesis Collection at Wolf Ranch, is currently under construction in Georgetown, near Austin (Icon is based in Austin). Hillwood Communities and Lennar are also involved in the project alongside Icon, while the homes themselves were designed by high-profile architectural firm Bjarke Ingels Group.
“For the first time in world history, we are witnessing a fleet of robots building an entire community of homes,” said Jason Ballard, Icon co-founder and CEO. “And not just any houses, houses that are better in every way…better design, greater strength, greater energy efficiency and comfort, and increased resilience. I believe robots and drones will be building entire neighborhoods, cities and towns in the future, and we will look back to Lennar’s Wolf Ranch as the place where robot building began on a large scale. We still have a long way to go but I believe this marks a very exciting and hopeful turning point in the way we are tackling housing issues around the world.”
As with previous Icon projects, the houses will be built on site using their own Vulcan 3D printer. In the build process, the 3D printers will extrude a cement-like proprietary compound called Lavacrete in layers from a nozzle, building the structure. Human builders will then finish everything, adding a metal roof, doors, windows and anything else that is required.
There will be eight different living styles ranging in size from 1,574 to 2,112 square feet (146 to 196 square meters). The apartments will be spread over one floor and will have three or four bedrooms and up to four bathrooms. Their overall design is influenced by traditional Texas ranches, and judging by the renders at least, the interiors look attractive and filled with light, with those telltale ribbed walls showing that they were 3D printed and not built using traditional methods.
The homes will reduce their grid-based energy use with a solar panel system and pack some smart home tech like a ring video doorbell, Wi-Fi-powered lock and smart thermostat, as well as a security package.
Though Icon has produced very affordable housing for the homeless in Mexico and Austin, the Genesis Collection at Wolf Ranch will be priced more closely with the company’s recently completed 3D printed homes, also in Austin, and are expected to fetch around $450,000 each. Pre-orders will be available sometime in 2023, but those inclined can register interest now.