ICON and Partners Reveal Unconventional Construction 3D Printing Project in Marfa, Texas

By on March 8th, 2023 in news, Usage

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Rendering of 3D printed resort [Source: ICON]

A very unusual, and perhaps application-opening construction 3D printing project has been announced by ICON and partners.

ICON, based in Texas, is one of the industry leaders in providing construction 3D printers. These enormous devices are used to extrude concrete in layers to form massive concrete structures.

Often this type of equipment is used to produce homes and offices, with mass media all-too-frequently picking up on the notion of “printing a home in 24 hours”. However, that’s really not possible: construction 3D printers simply extrude the concrete portions of these huge projects — quite efficiently. The remainder of the projects requires the use of standard building trades.

Rendering of 3D printed resort [Source: ICON]

We’ve been hearing a series of announcements about construction 3D printing projects to create residences, but this one is a bit different.

The new project is to “reimagine” a “bohemian campground” called “El Cosmico” in Marfa, Texas.

Events happening at El Cosmico [Source: El Cosmico]

This is truly a very unusual campground, as you can see from the image above from their website. They offer a wide variety of highly unusual accommodations, and have “goings-on” happening weekly.

The plan is to relocated El Cosmico from its current 21 acres (8.5ha) to a huge 65 acre site (26ha). The added space offers plenty of possibilities for unusual additions to this eclectic campground’s operations.

Rendering of 3D printed resort [Source: ICON]

The owners have commissioned Liz Lambert, a “hospitality visionary” who created her own hotel group, Bunkhouse, to prepare a concept and design for the new acreage. Partners also include architecture service BIG-Bjarke-Ingels Group and ICON for 3D printing.

ICON explains:

“The relocation and expansion of El Cosmico to 65 acres will showcase entirely new architectural approaches made possible by large-scale 3D-printing including domes, arches, vaults and parabolic forms. The innovative development will feature El Cosmico guest units in addition to new hospitality programming, including a pool, spa, and shared communal facilities.”

Rendering of 3D printed resort [Source: ICON]

This is extremely intriguing, as we have what could be a sparkplug combination actors to triggers something highly unusual: a 3D print company that can print unusual structures; an experienced visionary; a high-power architect; and an owner that’s ready for the unusual.

Lambert explained her vision:

“I have had a vision for the evolution of El Cosmico for many years that includes several spaces that add to the experience both for guests and locals – a pool, a hammam, and more space for art and skills-building workshops. In collaborating with the revolutionary thinkers at BIG and ICON, not only do I get to fulfill this dream, but we get to do it using this incredible 3D printing technology that marries the oldest principles of raw earth-based building with a futuristic technology that works more quickly, sustainably and efficiently than modern construction. What’s more, the innovation and beauty of the types of structures we can build extends far beyond the box. It’s fitting that ICON has a contract with NASA to build the first dwellings on the moon and on Mars. I’m excited that we get to explore their incredible work right here in our own little cosmic landscape under the stars in far West Texas.”

I can’t wait to see this project play out, as we may see some incredible new concepts emerge.

But then, I am also waiting to see what other projects are inspired by this unusual project.

Via ICON and El Cosmico

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!

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