3D Printed Zero House Recognized as 2022 Builder’s Choice Project of the Year
Pushing the boundaries of traditional home building methods, House Zero is a demonstration project that showcases the performance capabilities of 3D printing. The construction technology company ICON and Lake | Flato Architects collaborated to design and build the house in Austin, Texas, which ultimately reveals new ways to create shelter by striving for more efficiency and less construction process.
The 2,045-square-foot mid-century modern ranch house, with three bedrooms and two-and-a-half bathrooms, was printed by ICON’s next-generation Vulcan building system.
Layer by layer, the walls – composed of a proprietary Lavacrete cement-based material, insulation and steel for reinforcement – were printed to form the envelope of the house. The material offers building forms with a unique stacked appearance and provides thermal mass that slows heat transfer in the home.
For this project, the design team added curved surfaces and rounded corners to not only create smoother, more natural pathways through the house, but also to showcase the printer’s capabilities.
“In our view, House Zero is a house that can only be achieved through 3D printed construction,” says Melodie Yashar, Director of Building Performance and Design at ICON. “That was really the goal of the project: to demonstrate a home that uniquely uses the vocabulary and vernacular of 3D printing in a way that other means and methods of construction simply won’t.
Overall, the house wall system took less than two weeks to print and was completed using traditional construction methods in around nine months, a much faster time frame than a house like this would take. if it were conventionally built, reports ICON.
Although the house is built using a robotic printing process, biophilic principles were behind much of the design and are displayed through the natural wood, abundant natural lighting and views of nature. A variety of floor-to-ceiling windows and tall clerestories wash different surfaces with light over the course of a day, while deep wooden overhangs attenuate the harsh Texas sun and sideways rainfall.
“We really wanted to use natural concrete and show that it can be super beautiful,” says Ashley Heeren, partner at Lake|Flato Architects. “So we knew we’d have the grey, and then wood was an obvious choice because it’s rapidly renewable, more sustainable and can be sourced locally, but also its warmth is such a beautiful counterpoint.”
The house is designed for extreme permanence and longevity, but also to be adaptable over time to meet the changing needs of a family over several generations. While the perimeter envelope of the building is permanently stamped in concrete, the interior walls are deliberately retained as wood-framed partitions to allow for eventual interior remodeling.
A 350 square foot one-bedroom, one-bath secondary suite also provides long-term flexibility with multiple potential uses over time, including a rental unit, home office, guest room, or an apartment for aging parents.
“It goes very well with traditional craftsmanship,” says a design juror. “It’s a great example of this blending of brand new emerging technology with tradition, and it elevates both in the process.”
House Zero is the first of what ICON hopes will be an entirely new breed of homes specifically designed to take advantage of the opportunities created by 3D printing. When the home was revealed in March, ICON co-founder and CEO Jason Ballard said, “I hope this home inspires architects, developers, builders and homeowners to dream alongside ICON. of the exciting and hopeful future that robotics construction, and more specifically 3D printing, makes possible. The housing of our future must be different from the housing we have known.