The UN reckons that 1.6 billion people worldwide live in substandard housing – and that 100 million have no home at all. So not only is this an era of looming climate catastrophe, but there’s a global housing crisis on our hands too. Which begs the question: how do you build millions of new homes without devastating the planet?
BIG, the studio of Danish starchitect Bjarke Ingels, and construction firms ICON and Lennar might have the solution – or at least part of it. 3D-printed buildings are much quicker and easier to build than those constructed using conventional masonry. The three companies want to build an entire neighbourhood of 3D-printed homes, which would be the biggest of its kind anywhere in the world.
Texan building tech firm ICON builds machines called ‘Vulcans’ that can print and piece together concrete houses using robotics and software. The idea is that by using machines to build houses, construction uses less energy, wastes fewer resources and builds properties to a consistently high spec. ICON also claims that its houses are also more resilient and energy-efficient than their conventionally-built counterparts.
The three firms are working on a brand-new neighbourhood, comprising 100 3D-printed buildings in Austin, Texas. The exact site (as well as detailed floor plans and designs) is yet to be revealed, though more details will be released in 2022.
The project isn’t ICON’s first outing into the world of 3D-printed homes. Earlier this year the firm completed its East 17th Street Residences, a small community of four houses in east Austin. Those properties were all snapped up quickly, and no wonder: they look sleek, spacious and very, very desirable.
So, could the latest BIG, ICON and Lennar project hint at a solution to the global housing crisis? Quite possibly. And given those added environmental benefits, we’re very much into it.
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