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Visionaries build ultramodern hotel using a revolutionary method: ‘This was a pretty pivotal moment in the history of construction’

Construction of the groundbreaking hotel is expected to get underway in 2024.

Construction of the groundbreaking hotel is expected to get underway in 2024.

Photo Credit: iCON

The world’s first 3D-printed hotel will soon be a reality, according to Architectural Digest

Adding to its already eclectic housing options, which consist of yurts, teepees, and trailers, among other options, the El Cosmico campground hotel in Marfa, Texas, owned by legendary hotel proprietor Liz Lambert, will soon have entire structures built by large 3D printers (you can watch a video tour of the development here).

Icon, an Austin-based startup, has developed the technology to build large structures using Vulcan machines — 3D construction printers capable of printing entire homes on-site. In 2022, Vulcan built the walls of a 2,000-square-foot home in Austin in eight days, much quicker than traditional construction, per Business Insider.

The material used to build the walls is called Lavacrete, which Icon says is resistant to water, fire, mold, and termites. Icon also says its structures are more than 350% stronger than required by building codes and are able to withstand hurricanes and wildfires. The company also states that airtight construction will save on heating and cooling.

Building with this method reduces cost, time, and on-site waste, meaning less material will end up in landfills.

Per Architectural Digest, the hotel will consist of domed guest units as well as a community of Sunday Homes with up to four bedrooms available for purchase, all constructed with the Vulcan 3D printers.

Of course, the Vulcan can’t do everything. Construction still requires people to lay rebar; make foundations; and install windows and doors and mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems.

The process, though, is a big step toward making construction faster, cheaper, and less wasteful. 

Icon also says it’s taking steps to reduce the impact this type of building will have on the environment. While the production of concrete is a huge contributor to pollution in the atmosphere, Icon says it’s working toward limiting harmful gases in the creation of Lavacrete, Architectural Digest reported, citing Bloomberg.

Per Bloomberg, in 2018, Icon built its first permitted home, a 350-square-foot residence, to demonstrate the abilities of the Vulcan printer. The machine has since been upgraded.

“I think we’ll look back and say this was a pretty pivotal moment in the history of construction,” Jason Ballard, co-founder and CEO of Icon, said, per Bloomberg. “I do think 3D printing and robotic construction are necessary to end the global housing crisis.”

Besides creating a faster, cheaper, and cleaner way to build, 3D-printer construction will also make it easier to erect buildings with features that have otherwise been more complex.

Bjarke Ingels, the architect who designed the hotel, told AD: “The promise of 3D printing is that the printer doesn’t care how complex the design is, if it uses organic curvature, dome-like shapes, or hyperbolic paraboloids. All it cares about is how long it takes to print and how much material [it is] going to deploy, so you can make a square box or a beautiful domed house at the same cost.”

Construction of the groundbreaking hotel is expected to get underway in 2024, AD reported.

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