The Vulcan 2 3D printer can print a house in just 24 hours of print time. This technology is currently being put to the test in rural Mexico, where it’s being used to build the world’s first 3D-printed community, designed for residents living on less than $3 a day.
The reality, however, is that modular, prefabricated housing can exceed the limitations put upon it by popular conceptions of trailer parks and postwar government housing. Not only are they certainly faster – an important factor in cost, as the cost of land and construction have as much as doubled in some parts of America within the past decade – but also of a higher quality.
Looking toward the expected lifespan of these homes, due to the precision of factory construction and the availability of new materials, some prefab or modular homes have the potential to even outlast traditionally-built, on-site housing.
A far cry from the “prefabs” of the 1950s, modules can be manufactured off-site in factories, in a cutting edge process of designing and building homes that can drive real change in an industry that has seen little change in centuries. Modular manufacturing permits us to get down to a level of detail and robustness that traditional architects, structural engineers and mechanical and electrical engineering consultants do not normally go into.
ICON, which uses robotics, software, and advanced materials (including its proprietary “Lavacrete”) to remove numerous barriers in the contemporary building industry, debuted its first 3D printer and the country’s first permitted, 3D-printed home in at SXSW 2018 in Austin.
Community First Village, run by Mobile Loaves and Fishes to provide permanent, personal housing and services for homeless people in Austin, had quite the breakthrough day Monday. Partnering with Austin-based Icon and and Cielo property group, it opened the second phase of its development with a 3D-printed prototype house that will serve as a welcome center for the community. The 500-square-foot building took a total of 27 hours to print.
“The scheme provides much-needed single-person accommodations for social rent using converted shipping containers to create contemporary, environmentally-friendly homes in a desirable area near to local amenities and within walking distance of the town center,” explain the architects. The firm developed the design in consultation with local residents and stakeholders, and they previously completed a pop-up container cafe for Kingston University and volumetric student residential projects in Coventry.
London-based Fraser Brown MacKenna Architects (FBM Architects) recently secured planning permission to build eco-friendly social housing from recycled secondhand shipping containers in Aylesbury, a Buckinghamshire town located an hour northwest of London.
The project is the latest effort by the Vale of Aylesbury Housing Trust to provide “quality affordable homes” to people in need. So far the nonprofit has developed over 7,000 affordable homes, and it hopes the green-roofed cargotecture homes will serve as an inspiring and replicable model for future development.
North America’s affordable housing shortage could serve as the same economic rationale for Amazon’s mail-order house business. As housing prices skyrocket in places like Los Angeles and Boston and developable urban land becomes increasingly scarce, an affordable build-your-own-house kit could be just the fix for many households. (And since the company is often blamed for boosting real-estate prices in Seattle and now Northern Virginia, it might be karmically appropriate for Amazon to get in on the solution side to the affordable housing crisis.)