This is the first fully 3D-printed neighborhood in the world

Emerald Pellot
In The Know

It’s not a work of science fiction — it just might be the future of housing. 

Globally, over a billion people live without safe shelter. New Story, a nonprofit with a mission to end worldwide homelessness, has partnered with Icon, a company that uses 3D printing to make homes, to come up with a plan to help 50 families in Tabasco, Mexico.

The families live on less than $3 a day, and now the small, underserved population will be the first to experience an entirely 3D-printed neighborhood. 

New Story and Icon believe 3D-printed homes are faster, more affordable, and sustainable. There is less manual labor and equipment involved and Icon’s printer, the Vulcan II, uses local materials and is fully zero water.

The houses’ foundations are made of a proprietary concrete mixture that is inexpensive and resilient.

Tabasco was chosen due to its need for housing, its land access and its proximity to the U.S. The project surveyed 500 families with the help of the local government before narrowing down to 50. The average median income of each household is $76.50 per month and many of their current homes are prone to flooding from a nearby river. 

New Story used a Lean Participatory Design process so that the families had input into the home and community planning. Every home is complete with two bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen and a bath. While the two organizations are still in the process of completing the project, a few houses were built by December 2019.

“If we want to get our hands on the global housing crisis, not across hundreds of years but in tens of years, we need a highly scalable solution, which 3D printing will be,” Jason Ballard, co-founder and CEO of Icon told Fast Company.

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