toward affordable housing: icon will 3D print winning entries


While 3D printing pioneer ICON has a wide-ranging and experimental spirit — from bohemian campsites, mars habitats, and mid-century inspired luxury — the team is not new to accessible architecture. Back in 2018 it was already developing affordable housing solutions using its large-scale ‘Vulcan’ printer and proprietary cementitious-based material. While its expertise is mainly in fabrication, the construction technologies company has partnered with globally renowned architecture firms including Lake | Flato and Bjarke Ingels Group to draw up the forward-thinking, 3D-printable designs.


Now, ICON has announced a global architecture competition ‘Initiative 99,’ calling on designers to create homes that are at once beautiful and affordable — meaning they can be built for no more than $99,000 USD. Initiative 99 is offering a total prize of $1 million USD to the winning design teams at the end of the year-long competition. Ultimately, ICON will construct these winning designs across multiple locations, soon to be revealed.

icon initiative 99example of a 3D printed home | image © ICON





Announcing its Initiative 99 competition, ICON invites architects, firms, and university students from across the world to participate and present their submissions to a jury of experts which will include Bjarke Ingels of BIG and Christophe Lalande of UN-Habitat. Registration opens in the summer of 2023 — enter your vision here!


We need a moonshot for affordable housing, and I believe Initiative 99 will be the most important architectural competition in history,’ said Jason Ballard, co-founder and CEO ICON.The current affordable housing landscape seems to have been designed and built without taking beauty, aesthetics, comfort, sustainability, and resiliency as serious requirements. It’s time we attack this problem just as energetically as we’ve addressed other human challenges in the past.

icon initiative 99
example of a 3D printed home | image © ICON





ICON’s Initiative 99 competition comes after decades during which city planners, developers, government officials, and non-profit organizations have been driven by the idea of constructing homes with a cost of under $99,000. Yet there are still major difficulties that prevent this type of affordable housing from being implemented in the areas that need it the most. The current efforts to solve the global housing crisis have been ineffective, as 1.2 billion people still lack proper housing. Initiative 99 is dedicated to joining the architectural, design, and building communities in an effort to make a difference for those who need it the most.


With Initiative 99, we are changing the way that we talk about affordable housing,’ Ballard continues.When we talk about affordable housing, the conversation is often depressing and so are the results.


Our goal is that Initiative 99 would in turn create the conditions for affordable housing to be something hopeful, optimistic and exciting, and furthermore catalyzes the building of some really incredible affordable homes that just years ago would not have even been possible. The future could be a wonder, but we have to all work together to make it so.’

icon initiative 99
example of a 3D printed home | image © ICON



the jury


The Initiative 99 jury will consist of an expert panel of architectural practitioners, academic leaders, policy makers and non-profit organizations committed to realizing affordable housing solutions including: Michelle Addington, Architect and Dean of Architecture at University of Texas, Austin; Lucia Athens, Chief Sustainability Officer, City of Austin; Brett Hagler, CEO and Co-Founder, New Story; Bjarke Ingels, Founder and Creative Director of Bjarke Ingels Group; Christophe Lalande, Leader, Housing Unit, UN-Habitat; Michael McDaniel, Director of Design, ICON; Melodie Yashar, Vice President of Building Design and Performance, ICON, and others to be announced.  ICON announces 'initiative 99' competition to design 3D printable affordable housing
example of a 3D printed home | image © ICON



project info:


competition title: Initiative 99

host: ICON@icon3dtech

registration: begins summer 2023