Wonderful Engineering

Work Starts On World’s First 3D Printed Housing Community

The world’s first 3D printed community is all set to be constructed now that its blueprint has been prepared. It will be formed in Latin America where the houses have been designed for families that are surviving on less than $200 per month. The world’s first 3D printed community will also serve as a proof of concept for low-cost housing solutions all over the world.

The world’s first 3D printed community is a joint venture between the non-profit New Story, Fuseproject (Yves Béhar’s design firm), and Icon (construction technology company) for providing housing solutions to the homeless. The team revealed an example of how this dream might become a reality during the SXSW festival in Texas in 2018 by showing a full-sized proof of concept model of a home that had an area of 350 square feet.

3D printing has rapidly found applications in various fields including the architecture. The technology has been used for the construction of offices, a castle, and ten houses in a day as well. The general process is that huge 3D printers extrude a mortar via the nozzle, layer by layer, according to the programming for laying down the basic structure.

For the world’s first 3D printed community, a 3D printer from Icon named Vulcan was used for 3D printing the walls of the model home before workers stepped in for installing windows, roofing, and other odds and ends. This particular proof of concept home required 48 hours for construction and cost $10,000. Icon has introduced the Vulcan II 3D printer that is capable of 3D printing the structure in only 24 hours. The printer is portable, creates almost zero waste, and is functional in situations where a lack of power, water, or even typical labor infrastructure exists — thus rendering itself as the perfect choice for constructing low-cost houses even in communities that are remote.

Fuseproject founder, Yves Béhar, said, ‘As we spoke to the community members, we realized that a single house design doesn’t respond to the needs and expectations. This led us to design a system that allows for different programs, climate factors, and growth for families and spaces.’ The first 3D printed community’s homes will feature outdoor kitchens and large outdoor spaces intended for maintaining gardens and raising chickens. The houses have been designed while keeping the tropical climate in mind and overhands will be constructed on the front and the back. The design also features a clerestory with puncture holes to provide enhanced ventilation.

Yves Béhar also said, ‘This project presents a number of exciting questions – how to innovate with a 3D printer to create a housing model that is replicable, built to last, and built to sustain multi-generational family growth; how to integrate local needs, traditions and techniques into several varied cutting edge technological designs; and how to create a structure that is simultaneously affordable, attractive, safe, and functional. The process has been beautifully collaborative and has led to creative solutions for an adaptive design born in partnership with the local community.’