Three Mind-Blowing 3-D Printed Projects in Texas
These builds are revolutionizing the local home building and hospitality industries
We’ve all heard about 3-D printing technology. But did you know it’s already come so far that it’s being used to bring huge projects and communities around Texas to life? We’ve rounded up a few of the most extraordinary 3-D printed projects and talked to the folks behind them, so you know what’s coming.
Wolf Ranch Community in Georgetown
Wolf Ranch Community in Georgetown is the largest-scale development of 3D-printed homes in the world. The homes are built by ICON and Lennar and co-designed by BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group. The first model home is open for visits from prospective buyers, which, according to Charlie Coleman, ICON’s Austin division president, has mostly been pre-family couples, empty nesters, and retirees. Lennar has already sold several homes, ranging in price from $475,000 to $599,000. There will be a total of 100 homes, with eight different floor plans and 24 elevations. Homes range from 1,500 to 2,100 square feet and feature three to four bedrooms.
The homes are built with ICON’s printed wall system, made from Lavacrete, a proprietary cementitious material Lavacreate has developed for its durability. “These homes are going to be denser, sturdier, more able to withstand Mother Nature, and certainly more energy efficient,” says Coleman. “The way the material works is that the thermal mass of these wall systems is much more significant than traditional lumber construction, and therefore heat and cooling don’t move as quickly through the home.”
The walls are printed by ICON’s Vulcan construction systems, which are 46.5 feet wide and hum along quietly on site. The first homeowners are moving into the beautiful community now. ICON plans to finish printing the walls by early 2024 and anticipates being sold out of the 3D-printed homes by the end of 2024. It’s certainly a desirable location and price point for those of us in Austin looking to buy a new home next year.
El Cosmico in Marfa
El Cosmico is already an iconic destination — a campground hotel in Marfa, Texas, perhaps frequented most by Austinites but also by folks from around the country. Liz Lambert, Texas hospitality industry queen and owner of El Cosmico, has partnered with the aforementioned ICON to expand the 21-acre bohemian campsite to a 62-acre community with new features, including a spa and homey guest units.
“We’ve known for many years that we wanted to add more rooms to El Cosmico — along with a pool, a hammam, more space for art and skills-building workshops, and other amenities for guests and locals,” says Lambert. “It also makes sense to take El Cosmico out of town, out to where the night sky is a little darker and our closest neighbors are farther away, to see the stars, to really feel the immensity of West Texas.”
The El Cosmico project is slated to break ground in 2024. In the meantime, you can visit the Hartman Concert Lawn at the Long Center. The state-of-the-art stage, completed in just two weeks in March 2023, includes domes, arches, vaults, and parabolic forms. With a stunning view of the Austin skyline, this gathering space also serves as a sneak peek into the larger El Cosmico community.
“The pavilion is an example of unique and divergent architecture made possible by 3D printing, which is just getting started,” says Medlodia Yasahr, ICON’s Vice President of Building Design and Performance. “One of the great joys of ICON is putting our tech into the hands of great creatives and seeing possibilities emerge.”
The Casitas @ The Halles in Round Top
We all love visiting Round Top for their world-class antique shopping. But this town, full of countryside charm and Western flair, has much more to offer — including a desirable home base for Central Texans. Between Austin and Houston, Round Top is a peaceful haven with convenient access to anything you ever need.
Round Top, often endearingly thought of as a town frozen in time, has recently taken a step into the future. This past June, the World’s first near-zero-carbon, 3D-printed homes were constructed in Round Top. Developed by Starred Sky Development Co. in partnership with Hive3D and Eco Material Technologies, The Casitas @ The Halles are functional prototypes for future small-scale affordable housing projects.
Located behind The Halles, an in-town shopping and dining venue, the set of five casitas ranges from 400 to 900 square feet and includes studios, single-bedroom, and two-bedroom options. Hive RD Builders started printing the homes line by line using a proprietary blend of cement-based mortar, which Eco Material Technologies developed and has nearly zero carbon footprint.
Stay tuned: Soon, visitors will have the chance to spend the night in this revolutionary, 3D-printed lodging with convenient access to everything Round Top has to offer.