3D-print a home in 24 hours, a game changer for global homelessness

3D-print a home in 24 hours, a game changer for global homelessness

3D-printing is a revolution, and this new design of a home is changing the game for global poverty and architecture. the construction process is simple, the structure is sturdy and the home can be executed for a fraction of the going rate, in a fraction of the time. while many other 3D-printed homes exist, none includes such clear advantages as this one for social-work. printed with cement by a vulcan printer, the shelter can be printed for $10,000 in as little time as 12 hours, but it is projected to soon cost only $4,000. this has the potential to supercharge the production of affordable housing in areas of dire poverty that can’t produces shelters fast enough.

3D printed home
all photos courtesy of icon and new story



the project is a shared undertaking, combining the efforts of  icon — an innovative building solutions firm — and non-profit, new story — which specializes in global housing issues. the first official prototype has just been constructed in austin, texas on march 12th, 2018. jason ballard, one of the c0-founders of icon, will inhabit it temporarily to work out the kinks, gauging an impression before homes are printed in various outreach programs of new story. 

3D printed home
an in-process shot of the construction from the plan up



printing will start in el salvador, then hopefully follow in belize and haiti. not only is this a big win in the battle against homelessness and poverty, it is also a noteworthy step in the world of architecture. while not the first 3D-printed house design, it once again marks the progressive trend toward the future of construction — a future where 3D-printing and other non-human building methods are becoming more viable.     

3D print a home
the vulcan printer laying the cement wall

3D printed home
the finished prototype in austin texas

  • While this is aimed at solving global homelessness, the ability to create a property for $10000 would be a game changer for those struggling to afford their own property in the UK. Almost all of my friends rent, paying on average £600 ($820) a month for what is essentially a bedroom in a much larger building. If the government or local councils could put aside some land for properties like this to be built on a development, and come up with a scheme that allowed first time buyers to be able to afford them with minimal deposits, the monopoly that landlords have all over the country would come to an end in no time.

    Jon MacKinnon says:
  • It just prints the walls, walls are not a house! What about the roof, windows, doors, floor, insulation??

    michael jantzen jantzen says:
  • … and the sewage and power infrastructure?

    mikka says:
  • C’mon Jantzen …’you expecting 3D printing of windows?!

    JohnnyMac – You already have Council Housing. How’z that working out? I suspect some enterprising ‘landlord’ could use this process to build a new ‘Levittown’ (Google if you are under 50) There are some very attractive ‘Village’ concepts in Florida and Arizona but there’s a problem: the people who need it the worst are the least likely to use the opportunity to improve other aspects of their lives. (again, history is the example)

    Instead of ‘tract’ this could be ‘Track Housing’. Print me a studio – I’ll get inside and trowel the walls as it lays the mud. It’s a long forgotten term: ‘sweat equity’.


    JimCan says:
  • you can do the same walls with plywood in less time and less cost, less machinery and paying manual labor ( jobs)

    pedro says:
  • I’m sorry…Every day I see more and more research and money being spent on these CNC “dream land” projects that are not going to render…”good architecture”…or even good means, methods and materials in there application. This “pie in the sky” dreaming is taking funding away from projects that actually may be able to facilitate natural and sustainable applicable architecture in areas struck by natural disasters, or need low income housing. More “tech” and “big industry” is not going to be the solution to sustainable architecture and the global impact such industries as the and technology have on the environment…let alone what it is (and has done) to…”good architecture.”

    Oxbow Designs says:
  • I disagree with almost every comment here.
    I don’t believe this is aiming to become “good architecture” in the typical criteria we use to judge design. This is aiming to offer a solution that is feasible to be disassembled and reassembled in multiple locations across the globe in a very short period of time and a fraction of the cost.

    Also, yes this could be built out of plywood, but not within 24 hours, and with much more concrete needed. And the jobs are what increase the cost of the house. It’s not about creating jobs. This is about creating homes for those in dire need.

    Lastly, nobody in El Salvador is going to care for one second if this is going to be a new Levittown. If we were building these as an alternative to dense urban centers, then I would agree. But this is to alleviate some of the poorest regions on the globe. This is to get those in the line of disaster off of their feet. And sweat equity is not out of the picture here, especially with a initial investment at $4000.

    The fact that these are just walls, and not a roof and or windows is valid, but it is still removing the manual labor time and cost of those walls. Also this concrete home could be a potential for solution for areas like Puerto Rico that sees frequent hurricanes and face economic conditions that a $4000 house is extremely feasible.

    Is this the final solution? Absolutely not. Is this solution a good step forward? Of course. This is progress in the field and for people to be stuck in their old means and methods is kind of sickening. This is a strong push for the future of disaster relief. This is a strong push for more economic solutions for those in poverty. Look at it for what it is, and if you think this is so bad, by all means, do it better yourself. As for me, I applaud those that created this. 3D printing homes is a revolutionary concept, keep it going, this is definitely not the end of the road.

    Andrew says:
  • This looks all cool, but if there’s anything to compare this project to, it’s to that one meme online, of the drawing exercise, where there are two sketched out circles as step 1, and a perfectly drawn Owl for Step 2. This 3D printing concept is best for the walls and foundation of the building, but nothing more. How about the roof and the windows and the slanted roof?

    Gustav.K says:
  • Awesome application of technology, and an excellent reduction of cost, although they still don’t compete with how homes are built today. You will say how they use so much less of the resources, but what about the factories that build each component for the machines that build the machines for the factories that build these building machines?
    I can make bricks and mortar in my kitchen at home, but I’d need a larger setup to make enough to build a decent home. I worked with Church organizations who built comparable homes in less than 12 hours each and involved the surrounding community on the project, which enhanced the appreciation and enjoyment of the end result, but we still missed something, even at that . . . Great idea, great motivation, great aspirations, but you forgot the most important thing. What causes homelessness?
    Greed. Avarice. Arrogance. Caprice. Contempt.
    The more centralized the government is, the more it steals the wages of those who produce and gives them to those who choose not to, because those who are more dependent are more dependable for popular support.
    You will not end poverty by building shantytowns to house your slaves.

    James says:
  • this plywood house was build in 4 hours- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5drphh7xRM,

    pedro calle says:
  • Most of you don’t see the point: this method is a) usable without much (wo)manpower to build, b) can be individually designed in very short time, c) can be done without restrictions of prefabricated materials, d) made of concrete is has a much longer live span than plywood-constructions in terms of humidity and insects. It is heavier and so much better in acustics. The thermal properties are better because of energy storage.
    The thermal insulation is done with the chamber design and little direct connections from in- to outside.
    I see also a great potential in homes for older people who don’t need and want to live in hospital-like dieing beds.

    Dirk says:
  • Oh – and another very important point, this is the main thing: the raw material is ubiquitary and available in any dosage. You will have very little to no wasted material unlike with plywood. The humidity balance is much better, and the fire resistance! You will need only doors and windows (if at all…) to fix, with no intrados to be cut and fitted. You can easily insert steel rods for burglar safety instead of windows.

    Dirk says:
  • The concept & the process is valid & to be applauded. I do see many rocky paths ahead however… local admin, funding and of course the greed & avarice of those wishing to profiteer from these projects. Good luck all the same. I truly hope the venture gets off the ground and improves the lives of those in dire need..

    bilbobaggins says:

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