A House for $10k in 24 Hours: Is This the Future of Affordable Housing?

ICON’s construction template could revolutionize the way affordable housing gets built.

Nathan Bahadursingh Nathan Bahadursingh

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Austin-based construction technologies company, ICON, is building an assemblage of 3D-printed homes for the homeless. As part of Austin’s new Community First! Village, a 51-acre development that will provide affordable housing for those coming out of chronic homelessness, ICON has completed the welcome center for the site.

It is 500 square feet in size and was 3D-printed over the course of several days, but only took 27 hours of labor to construct. ICON plans to add another six 3D-printed homes to the village by the end of the year.

The 3D-printed welcome center in the Community First! Village in Austin, Texas; Photo by Regan Morton 

In 2018, ICON constructed the first permitted 3D-printed home in the United States. Called the Chicon House, the 650-square-foot home was printed in under 24 hours, costing around $10,000. However, the firm believes future single-story homes, as large as 2,000 square feet, could be printed for thousands less.

This approach to homebuilding is ICON’s mission to revolutionize the construction industry in response to increasing housing insecurity, unsustainable practices and homelessness. Through the use of proprietary 3D printing robotics, software and advanced materials, ICON aims to challenge traditional building methods all while being more eco-friendly and accessible. 

The Chicon House; image courtesy of ICON

The company’s work with the Community First! Village is pushing the success of the Chicon House even further. According to Dwell, Alan Graham, founder and CEO of Mobile Loaves and Fishes, the nonprofit behind the Community First! Village, hopes ICON will be able to print an entire neighborhood capable of housing approximately 40% of Austin’s homeless population. Though this is a lofty goal, there’s no doubt that ICON can construct beautiful spaces. 

The new welcome center, designed by Logan Architecture, features black, white, and natural wood finishes. This provided an ample foundation for home goods company Industry West and interior designer Claire Zinnecker to breathe life into the space. Rather than stopping at making the building merely livable, the team elevated the interior, making it desirable. 

The interior of the new welcome center designed by Industry West and Claire Zinnecker; Photo by Regan Morton

The Community First! Village is the only project in the country addressing homelessness with advanced printing technology. Though still early in its development, this welcome center could be a symbol of what’s to come, illuminating the possibilities of providing beautifully designed affordable housing for all. ICON is also working on a 3D-printed village in Latin America, so it seems this is dream has a chance of becoming reality around the globe.

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