Last year, Hypepotamus covered the SXSW launch of the world’s first permitted 3D-printed home, created by Atlanta-based nonprofit startup New Story. Today, the organization announced that it has broken ground on an entire 3D-printed community of homes — another global first — and has already completed construction on two standing homes in a remote part of Mexico.
According to New Story, the first two homes, each measuring 500 square feet, took around 24 hours to 3D-print that the company spread out over several days of construction. The company spent 18 months planning the project and partnered with construction technologies company ICON for initial build. ECHALE a Tu Casa, a nonprofit New Story partner based in Mexico, handled the final build-out.
The full community, which will contain 50 homes once completed, will be located in Tabasco, Mexico, a state along the Gulf. Local families living in extreme poverty and shelters deemed too unsafe to occupy will receive the homes.
The completed 3D-printed homes each have two bedrooms, one bathroom, and a living room, as well as a kitchen and bath. Because the homes stand in a seismic zone, the entire community will be built on “robust” foundations and engineered to exceed standard safety requirements so that they will survive for generations. Families receiving the homes also provided feedback on the design process, which New Story’s COO and co-founder Alexandria Lafci found crucial in addressing the specific needs of the community.
“I think it’s important to remember what makes this project different, what makes it matter,” said Lafci in a statement. “We’re not an R&D company just for the sake of innovation, and we’re not here to turn a profit. These homes are for real people, with real needs, and everything we do is for them, and includes them in the process.”
New Story pre-selected the 50 Mexican families based on economic need, after reviewing data provided through the company’s partnership with local government. Of more than 500 families surveyed, 74 percent said their quality of life was impacted by a lack of safety where they currently live. The families will be allowed to move in once the entire community is completed, and a government plan calls for the 3D-printed community to be included in a larger plan that will bring basic utilities, and community amenities such as green spaces and parks to the overall municipal area.
The first-of-its-kind 3D home-printer, called “Vulcan II,” was conceived to combat housing shortages to vulnerable populations, and was designed to work under constraints commonly found in rural areas. Those challenges included unpredictable power and flooding rainfall, which during parts of the process blocked access roads to the construction site. Despite these setbacks, New Story CEO Brett Hagler was determined to see the construction through to the end.
“We view this printer as a catalytic R&D project that has the opportunity to influence the sector as a whole,” Hagler said. “Our hope is to learn, iterate, and then share the technology with other nonprofits and governments to help everyone improve and reach families faster.”
Ultimately, Vulcan II is more than a 3D home-printer to New Story — it is a way to confront and impact global housing challenges through technology, and is the beginning of something Hagler and New Story hope to spread around the world.
“We feel it’s our responsibility to challenge traditional methods. Linear methods will never reach the billion-plus people who need safe homes,” Hagler said. “Challenging our assumptions, iterating based on data, and taking calculated risks on innovative ideas will allow us to reach more families with the best possible solutions, exponentially faster.”