Acclaimed designer Yves Béhar of fuseproject, Austin–based construction technologies company ICON, and nonprofit New Story just unveiled plans to build the world’s first 3D-printed community, which will provide over 50 homes for impoverished families in Latin America.
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The ambitious project originated with New Story’s mission to end global homelessness with sustainable, cutting-edge technology—and Icon's 3D-printed home has been adapted into new site-specific designs thanks to fuseproject’s on-the-ground community workshops.
"As we spoke to the community members, we realized that a single house design doesn't respond to the needs and expectations," explains Béhar, whose team worked with the community on topics ranging from land selection to community layout. "This led us to design a system that allows for different programs, climate factors, and growth for families and spaces."
New Story has not yet disclosed the semi-rural location, but the nonprofit shared that the families involved mainly comprise farmers and palm weavers of varying ages, who often live in multigenerational homes and typically live on less than $200 per month. New Story believes that the homes could lift the families out of poverty and provide life-changing benefits for generations to come.
ICON has developed a portable printer that will create durable and scalable homes out of local concrete. The device is engineered to work in remote areas that may lack access to water, power, and labor infrastructure. Last year, the team successfully printed a prototype house in Austin, and with the help of fuseproject, they've updated their designs to better meet the community’s needs and the tropical environment.
Each site-specific house will feature an outdoor kitchen and an expanded outdoor area for raising chickens and crops. The open-plan interior living areas are optimized for natural ventilation and flexibility. The 3D printer will allow for built-in elements ranging from countertops in the kitchen and bathroom to seating and shelving. The walls and structural elements for each home can be printed in just 24 hours with nearly zero waste.
"We feel it’s our responsibility to challenge traditional methods," says New Story CEO Brett Hagler. "Linear methods will never reach the billion-plus people who need safe homes. Challenging our assumptions, iterating based on data, and taking calculated risks on innovative ideas will allow us to reach more families with the best possible solutions, exponentially faster."