Architects from around the world are being called on to help solve the affordable housing crisis. South by Southwest is the launch pad for a $1 million competition to get the best and brightest to create affordable designs that make homeownership more attainable for more people.
“We want this to be a moonshot for affordable housing,” said Jason Ballard, Co-Founder and CEO of ICON.
Austin’s best view of the future of affordable housing is on the lawn of The Long Center for the Performing Arts. It only took 90 days to construct a 3D-printed performance pavilion at the venue and it is now seen as an example of how to reimagine building almost anything.
“It’s the first and only one in the world and it’s right here in Austin,” said Cory Baker, President and CEO of The Long Center. “This is a gift to the City of Austin from ICON, Liz Lambert, and Bjarke Ingels Group.”
The pavilion’s concrete curves and slopes are now a stage for local artists. But ICON also plans to use it as a platform to showcase the possibilities of 3D printing.
“3D printing really does enable a new way to build and a new way to imagine things,” said Ballard.
The global architecture competition called Initiative 99 will pay big money for big ideas to solve the affordable housing crisis.
“It will be the largest architectural prize in history. It is a $1 million prize,” said Ballard.
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ICON thinks the Initiative 99 competition can change the conversation about affordable housing.
“Our current ways of thinking and the economy of the building has shrunk our imaginations a little bit and we hope 3D printing is the catalyst for expanding imaginations,” said Ballard.
Ballard expects 3D printing to be incorporated into housing prototypes because construction costs are lower than traditional home building costs. Initiative 99 requires homes to have construction costs under $99,000.
“We think 3D printing gives some real advantages to making these homes energy efficient, strong, safe, low operating costs, and beautiful,” said Ballard.
Last year, ICON unveiled a high-end 3D-printed home at SXSW. This year, the Austin-based company and collaborators are focused on ways to make the cost-saving technology work for all incomes.
“This is going to be the new way of building,” said Liz Lambert, founder of El Cosmico.
Lambert is teaming up with ICON and Bjarke Ingels Groups to reimagine and 3D print a new El Cosmico in Marfa, Texas. El Cosmico is currently a 21-acre campground hotel. It would be relocated and expanded to 65 acres that would include a hotel, pool, spa, and housing.
“This pavilion is an example of the types of shapes and forms that we can do together out in West Texas,” said Lambert. “I think it makes so much more possible.”
Registration for the affordable housing competition opens this summer and by this time next year the multi-phase, year-long competition will be finished.
“We’ll be announcing the winners of the contest at SXSW 2024,” said Ballard.
On Wednesday, ICON will announce more details about Initiative 99 at the SXSW panel, A Moonshot for Affordable Housing. The competition to create an affordable housing prototype is open to architects from around the world including firms, individuals, and university students.View This Story on Our Site