America’s First Development of 3D-Printed Homes Hits the Market in Austin, Texas

A series of four 3D-printed homes have just been completed in East Austin, offering buyers an alternative in one of the country’s hottest real estate markets.

In 2018, over the course of a little more than 48 hours, the first permitted 3D-printed home was built in Austin, Texas. The tiny home stood as proof of concept for builders ICON, the company that, with Kansas City–based developers 3Strands, has now completed an entire 3D-printed housing development in the burgeoning neighborhood of East Austin.

It took around one week of print time to complete the wall system for each home in the development—a process that would typically involve four steps or more using traditional building processes, including framing, drywall, and siding.

Dubbed East 17th Street Residences, the landmark project features four reasonably priced homes with a mash-up of construction methods. The first floor of each is printed using the same technology ICON used to create its first tiny home, a village in Mexico, and a community for the homeless: Atop a concrete slab, the robotic arm of a printer, the Vulcan II, meticulously extrudes layers of a cement-like material called Lavacrete. The results are walls with the texture of meringue, but the strength of mortar.

ICON’s system speeds up building as it replaces the need for multiple materials and trades with just three materials—Lavacrete, insulation, and a small amount of steel for reinforcement. There’s also no longer any need to coordinate various trades on site, greatly reducing construction time.

"[Concrete] is better suited to reduce fire risk, withstand impact damage from windstorms, and doesn’t need to be replaced like drywall after flooding," attests Conner Jenkins, senior project manager at ICON. "Lavacrete is even stronger and longer-lasting than traditional building materials." 

The homes’ second levels are finished with more conventional construction methods, relying on metal cladding and timber that contrasts beautifully with the Lavacrete.

The Skyview Residence is a four-bedroom, three-bathroom home with 1,521 square feet of space across two levels. The living spaces and guest bedroom on the ground floor open out to a spacious yard, while the upper floor is dedicated to private bedroom spaces.

At 1,928 square feet, the Treehouse Residence is the largest of the four homes. The top floor is perched above the 3D-printed ground floor, creating an awning that protects the outdoor patio. A 3D-printed wall juts out from the main residence, offering privacy from the street.

The development’s four homes are designed by local firm Logan Architecture, and range in size from two-bedrooms at 925 square feet to four-bedrooms at 1,928 square feet. Each boasts a private yard, covered parking, a contemporary, open floor plan, and interiors designed by Austin-based Claire Zinnecker.

Two of the 3D-printed homes sold earlier this year for around $450,000, while the two larger homes are currently listed at $745k and $795k—numbers that have been determined by the current real estate market in Austin, says ICON.

Since building its first 3D-printed home in 2018, ICON has developed the materials, software, and robotics needed to create these forward-thinking homes. The East 17th Street Residences are 3D-printed using Lavacrete, a proprietary material that is a cement-based mixture with superior durability and resilience.

The homes have interiors by local designer Claire Zinnecker, who took inspiration from the high-tech construction method and the vernacular of West Texas.

The clean lines of the timber joinery and contemporary furnishings offer a pleasing contrast to the raw texture of the Lavacrete walls.

"The East 17th Street Residences represent the future of homebuilding for the mass market and illustrate what is possible with this technology," says Gary O’Dell, cofounder and CEO of 3Strands. "We cannot wait for people to build their lives in these homes and experience the future of homebuilding firsthand."

The upper floors are built using more conventional construction methods.

The bathroom’s design takes inspiration from nature.

Large openings have been printed into the ground floor walls, allowing for the interiors to be flooded with natural light.

The Loggia Retreat is the smallest of the four homes, with two bedrooms on the upper floor and an open-plan living and dining space on the ground floor.

A medallion on a 3D-printed wall structure reads, "Designed with love in Austin, TX."

More from ICON:

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

How Icon Is Building the $4,000 3D-Printed Homes of the Future

Project Credits:

Developer: 3Strands

Brokerage: DEN Property Group

Architect of Record: Logan Architecture

Construction / Technology: ICON

Structural Engineer: Fort Structures

Interior Design: Claire Zinnecker

Mechanical Engineering: Positive Energy

Photography: Regan Morton Photography

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