World's first 3D-printed neighborhood unveiled in Mexico

This 3D-printed housing project, which was created in partnership with Icon and Échale, is located in Tabasco, southeastern Mexico
Joshua Perez for New Story
View 13 Images
View gallery - 13 images

We've followed New Story's efforts to create affordable 3D-printed homes for a while, including its first prototype model and ambitious plan to build a community in Latin America. That plan has now been put into action and the non-profit has revealed what it calls the world's first 3D-printed community, which is currently under construction in rural Mexico.

The project, which was created in partnership with Icon and Échale, is located in Tabasco, southeastern Mexico. The team aims to produce 50 homes for families in the area who are living in extreme poverty, often in dangerous and rickety makeshift shelters. So far, two homes have been completed and the families chosen will receive them at a zero interest, zero profit mortgage costing around 400 Mexican Pesos (about US$20 per month), which will run for seven years.

The construction process was similar to other 3D-printed projects we've reported on and involved the Vulcan II printer
Joshua Perez for New Story

The construction process for the homes was essentially the same as other 3D-printed projects we've reported on and involved Icon's Vulcan II printer extruding cement out of a nozzle, layer by layer, until the basic structures of the homes were completed. This process took about 24 hours per house. Human builders then came in and finished them off by adding roofs, windows, and doors. However, the project wasn't without challenges.

"The 3D printer for homes, called the Vulcan II, is designed to work under the constraints that are common in rural locations, but the journey has not been easy," says New Story. "Power can be unpredictable and local rainfall has often flooded access roads to the construction site. This printer, designed to tackle housing shortages for vulnerable populations, is the first of its kind."

The families who will live in the 3D-printed homes were asked for feedback on what kind of homes they'd like to live in
Joshua Perez for New Story

The finished homes measure 500 sq ft (46.5 sq m) and look comfortable and well made. The interior is laid-out on one floor and divided into two bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen, and a bathroom. There's also a small porch area for dining outside.

They come with electrical and water hookups and, according to New Story, have been engineered above the standard safety requirements to ensure they will withstand both the local seismic conditions, and the test of time.

"We are living a historic moment, having the first community of 3D-printed homes being built," says Gretel Uribe, Development Director, Échale. "But more than the technological accomplishment that this represents, which feels like science fiction meeting reality, I would like to point out that this technology is being developed and used to bring adequate housing to the most vulnerable families. I think this project is a lesson that if we come together to work, join talents and resources, and lead them to solve real problems, the dream of sustainability and social fairness is achievable."

New Story declined to share the actual construction cost of the homes at this time but is aiming to increase efficiency and lower cost as the project progresses. The non-profit also expects that the remaining 48 homes will be filled with families by next year.

Source: New Story

View gallery - 13 images
Adam scours the globe from his home in Spain in order to bring the best of innovative architecture and sustainable design to the pages of New Atlas. Most of his spare time is spent dabbling in music, tinkering with old Macintosh computers and trying to keep his even older VW bus on the road.
Sign in to post a comment.
Please keep comments to less than 150 words. No abusive material or spam will be published.
clay December 11, 2019 12:40 PM
The biggest drawback to "printing" concrete homes, functionally, is rebar. They still manually place steel reinforcement.. unless they forgo reinforcement altogether or they include fibers or other reinforcing 'particles. When someone comes up with a way to economically place the rebar... then it will become much more than a side show.

Of course, using other materials may obviate the need for tensile reinforcement but I've not see a lot of progress on that front.
lucius December 11, 2019 03:19 PM
I think I would enjoy living in one of these houses - the 21st-century version of adobe.
kenneth53 December 11, 2019 04:01 PM
I would want to plaster those interior walls. It seems to me you could scrape yourself up pretty badly on that.
Dan Lewis December 11, 2019 05:50 PM
I hope they have a nice variety of home designs.
Nobody wants to live in the exact same house shape as the next door neighbors.
The 'little boxes made of ticky tacky' song comes to mind.
Tom Lee Mullins December 11, 2019 07:03 PM
I think it is neat to live in a little village like that. since it is three D printed, perhaps it could be customized to each person's needs?
Signguy December 11, 2019 11:11 PM
clay: they've been building houses from clay for hundreds of years - no rebar.
Worzel December 12, 2019 09:19 AM
It seems that a conventional concrete base slab is needed, and cannot have been included in the alleged build time. Also, the usual access problems from trying to locate heavy machinery into very rural areas is to be expected. Anyway the result is bound to be a significant improvement on ramshackle shelters from waste debris. I'm sure that the occupants wont care if their house is identical to their neighbours, millions of people live in houses with identical structural forms, worldwide,. Their answer to this will be like most, to customise the interior, and the exterior appearance. Maybe this would also be an answer to the growing homeless problems in the ''rich'' western countries.
WONKY KLERKY December 12, 2019 11:35 AM
I note they've given their nice new machine thingy a tent to protect it.
I wonder why they don't do that for their brickies (?)
(not that it's any different here in UK).

Yours etc
Retired (aka cured) Bricklayer.

Being totally unsolicited there is absolutely no charge for this letter of observation,
if you take it to the Quantity Surveyor of your choice,
he will tell you how you could have got it for less.
MrMatt December 12, 2019 06:50 PM
@clay to your point, using hempcrete would easily replace the need for added rebar. (Hemp fiber mixed in concrete)
Colt12 December 16, 2019 05:24 AM
Compared to the shacks that they are living in now this is a castle. Great work with the 3-D printer hopefully many more of these can be deployed.
Load More
© 2023 New Atlas