ICON Unveils the World’s First Village of Affordable 3D-Printed Homes in Mexico

After 18 months of planning, ICON and New Story just unveiled two affordable 3D-printed homes in a groundbreaking development for Tabasco, Mexico.

In Tabasco, Mexico, a family living below the poverty line recently visited their future home: a 3D-printed, 500-square foot structure with two bedrooms, one bath, a wraparound cement patio, and an awning over the front porch. With an off-white exterior complemented by breeze blocks, the dwelling is earthen, compact, and even stylish.

It’s one of two fully furnished homes—printed in about 24 hours and finished by local nonprofit ÉCHALE—that will soon make up a larger community of 50 dwellings with green spaces, parks, amenities, and basic utilities. Tabasco is a seismic zone, so the homes were engineered beyond standard safety requirements—and they’ll endure for generations.

The first two 3D-printed homes in Tabasco sit side by side on Lavacrete, a proprietary material developed by ICON.

Each home was printed by ICON's Vulcan II printer in around 24 hours across several days and was finished with traditional labor by local nonprofit organization ÉCHALE. A cement pad doubles as a patio, multiple windows provide ample light to the interiors, and breeze blocks above the windows allow for ventilation. 

Through the development and design process, families selected to live in the new community—ones in utmost need—provided feedback to create homes that would best suit their lifestyles. "As we spoke to the community members, we realized that a single house design doesn't respond to the needs and expectations of everyone," explains renowned designer Yves Béhar of fuseproject, who worked alongside ICON and New Story for the prototype designs.

Each home will come with two bedrooms, one bath, a kitchen, and a living room. 

A modest kitchen offers the essentials: an oven with a range, a refrigerator, and shelving. 

With ICON’s technology, New Story is proving that 3D printing can provide homes to families like the ones in Tabasco. ICON’s Vulcan II printer was specifically designed for the rigors of remote, rural printing, where limited resources, unpredictable weather conditions, and unreliable power make traditional construction near impossible.

A family sits on the patio outside their finished home.

A bedroom features decor matched to the structure’s off-white walls.

This undertaking marks one in a series for ICON, who earlier this year partnered with Austin-based nonprofit Mobile Loaves & Fishes to 3D print a welcome center at an affordable housing development.

Since being founded five years ago, New Story has built more than 2,700 homes for over 15,000 people using traditional construction methods in Bolivia, Haiti, El Salvador, and Mexico. In the past two years, they’ve spent millions of dollars and thousands of hours to to find innovative solutions to build better homes faster.

The homes are printed layer by layer using a local concrete mix. The textured, off-white finish gives them an earthen charm.

The cost of building the homes was not disclosed, but New Story sees the finished dwellings as a leap in the right direction. "The goal, as we continue to scale and deliver more homes, is that the efficiencies rise as costs go down," the say. Families will move in to the new homes in phases in early 2020.

A family poses in front of ICON’s Vulcan II 3D printer. Innovations in building technology rarely appear in developing countries first.

ICON's Vulcan II printer prints homes atop a cement pad. The homes have been engineered to withstand harsh weather conditions and seismic activity in Tabasco.


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