The world’s first 3D-printed neighborhood for the poor now has its first houses

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Two years ago, the first ever permitted 3D house in the US was built in Texas and it took less than 24 hours to do so.

The giant 33-foot long 3D printer used for the prototype home printed in Texas was moved to an impoverished rural area in Southern Mexico, where it recently completed the first two 500 square-foot houses with roofs, windows and interiors. These homes will be part of the world’s first 3D-printed community.

New Story, the non-profit leading the project, believes this construction process could be part of the solution to providing affordable, sustainable housing in the poorest communities across the world. “We feel like we’ve proved what’s possible by bringing this machine down to a rural area in Mexico, in a seismic zone, and successfully printing these first few houses,” said Brett Hagler, CEO and co-founder of New Story.

The homes were 3D printed in about 24 hours of print time over several days by ICON, a construction technologies company, featuring final construction build out by ÉCHALE, New Story’s non-profit partner in Mexico.

The built-to-last homes located in rural Tabasco, Mexico will be granted to local families currently living in extreme poverty and unsafe shacks. When complete, the community will have 50 3D printed homes in total.

New Story and ICON, after 18 months in planning, completed the first two printed homes using the Vulcan II printer, the first of its kind and designed to work under difficult conditions often found in rural locations, and to tackle housing shortages for vulnerable and impoverished populations..

The 3D printed homes feature two bedrooms, a living room, kitchen and bath. Co-designed with feedback from the families who will live in them, the homes have been created to meet the specific needs of the community.

“I think it’s important to remember what makes this project different, what makes it matter,” said Alexandria Lafci, the COO of New Story. “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.”

Since their founding just five years ago, the New Story team built more than 2,700 homes using traditional construction methods across Haiti, El Salvador, Bolivia and Mexico.

Thousands of hours and millions of dollars where spent to develop innovative solutions and R&D to help build homes better and faster for the global social housing sector over the past two years.

“Imagine if we could slash the cost and time it takes to build a home while improving quality and customization. This 3D home printer has that potential,” said Lafci. “Change is an open source pursuit so we are not working with ICON to bring this technology to only New Story projects, we are bringing it to the world. Our goal is to power our sector, every government and organization building homes for the poor, to do their best work.”

New Story’s partnership with ICON and use of the 3D printing technology will impact more families much quicker and improve quality and flexibility of design at the same time.

Through the technology, software, and advanced material, the teams will learn, reiterate, and share their knowledge with other non-profits and governments’ efforts to reach and improve families faster.

“Conventional construction methods have many baked-in drawbacks and problems that we’ve taken for granted for so long, that we forgot how to imagine any alternative,” said ICON co-founder Jason Ballard. “With 3D printing, you not only have a continuous thermal envelope, high thermal mass, and near zero-waste, but you also have speed, a much broader design palette, next-level resiliency, and the possibility of a quantum leap in affordability. This isn’t 10% better, it’s 10 times better.”

Families who will live in this community were pre selected based on need; the median monthly family income in the community is only $76.50 (around $3 per day); the majority of the families in this area are from an indigenous population that has historically been left out of government programs.

The families selected for this community are the 50 families with the greatest financial and physical need. In partnership with the local government, the 3D printed community will be part of a larger community plan for the overall municipal area. Families will have access to green spaces, parks, community amenities, and basic utilities through this master plan provided by the local government.

“We are living a historic moment, having the first community of 3d printed homes being built,” said ÉCHALE Development Director Gretel Uribe. “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.”

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Kash Khan

Kash Khan

Kash Khan is the founder of Educate Inspire Change (EIC). Since 2012 he has focused on on inspiring and educating others in order to improve their consciousness and connect to their true selves.

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Kash Khan

Kash Khan

Kash Khan is the creator of Educate Inspire Change(EIC). He founded EIC in 2012 to help keep people informed, to encourage people to expand their consciousness and to inspire people to reach for their dreams.
Since 2019 he has been going through the most transformative period of his life working with Sacred Plant Medicines out of Costa Rica and is now focusing much more on creating conscious content with the sole purpose of giving people more self-awareness so that they can heal mind, body & spirit and live a full life of meaning and purpose.

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