New Story

For families living on less than $200 per month, access to safe housing that provides shelter from both environmental and physical danger is critical. Vulnerable populations are typically the last to benefit from innovation. It is our belief that designers, builders and technology innovators have the potential to bring unprecedented speed and scale to housing design that can elevate the lives of some of the most impoverished populations around the globe. 3D printing, in particular, offers a new and powerful tool for realizing this potential and driving this mission forward.

Fuseproject partnered with New Story, a non-profit working on a mission to end global homelessness and ICON, a construction technology company dedicated to revolutionizing homebuilding, to design, plan, and build the world’s first 3D-printed community, printed in 24 hours. We will deliver this  groundbreaking method of homebuilding to families in Latin America who need affordable housing that adapts to their day-to-day lives.

We worked directly with the communities that we were designing for to learn more about their culture and environment to ensure that we were providing options that respond to their housing needs in ways that extended beyond single traditional home design. We used 3D technology and the unique design possibilities it enables to provide solutions that addressed important questions related to climate, family structure and the role that the homes play in creating a larger community.

Our community audit and brainstorm process uncovered the need to design a system that allows for different programs, adapts to climate factors, and even enables building second floors safely as families grow over time. Each lot is 120-square meters, while the interior space of each home is approximately 55 square meters. Families who will live in the community have been involved in the planning process from the start – a unique attribute to New Story’s community planning process. The community is made up of a population of mostly farmers and artisans with ages that range from infants to the elderly who often live in multi-generation homes. We began by facilitating a series of on-the-ground workshops to understand and adapt plans and designs to the community’s specific motives, habits, and needs.

The design reflects a culture of using outdoor spaces for cooking, food preparation and eating. The roof overhang over the front and back patios provide added shade from the sun, protection from rainfall and a space for socializing. The simple addition of front and rear outdoor lighting offers a sense of safety and security for the families. The design and technology also allow the home to adapt to the local environmental conditions such as climate and seismic activity with simple enhancements to the base structure, by incorporating additional reinforcement into the wall cavities and using the walls themselves to resist lateral movement.

Inside the homes, 3D printing uniquely enables built-in elements such as counters in the kitchen and bathroom, seating, shelves and ledges in the walls and embedded structural hooks for building closets, storage and clothes-lines. The technology has also been adapted to a tropical environment with heavy rainfall by utilizing strategically placed windows, door openings, and an open floor plan to encourage natural cross-ventilation. The unique texture of the 3-D printed technology adds a horizontal texture to the interior and exterior walls, and the 3-D printing technology all for curved walls and built-in details without adding costs. In addition to choices each member of the community can make to create a variety of buildings in the community, a tint added to the concrete can also color the walls and add an individual and diverse building feel.

We’ve created options and areas for customization that families can choose from to help them personalize their homes, feel a sense of ownership, community, and security. The process has been beautifully collaborative and has led to creative solutions for an adaptive design born in partnership with the local community.