Initiative 99: A Competition for Disruptive Affordable Housing Solutions

Category Science

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ICON is launching Initiative 99, a competition for disruptive designs of 3D-printed homes that can be built for under $99,000. The competition seeks to create a new approach to the design of affordable housing units and aims to address the problem of housing shortage in the US. The winning entry will be fully built onsite in Austin.

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But so far this seems to be harder than anticipated; while a handful of 3D-printed homes have been priced well below their conventionally-built competitors, many others have sold at parity or just slightly undercut average market prices. Given that there’s a housing shortage of somewhere between 2.3 to 6.5 million homes (depending on whether multi-family construction is included) in the US, we’re going to need to do a lot better than that.

ICON's 3D printing constructions require 90% less labor compared to standard construction techniques

Construction technology company ICON is aiming to find a way forward. The company (which is currently building a community of 100 3D-printed homes outside Austin, Texas) is launching a competition for disruptive solutions for affordable housing. Called Initiative 99, the contest will call for 3D-printed home designs that can be built for under $99,000.

In terms of costs, the $99,000 threshold must include printing, additional construction costs, and finish-out costs (like mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems). It doesn’t include land, labor, utility connections, or permits.

An estimated 76% of the homeless population can be categorized as unsheltered, most of which are concentrated in California, New York, and Florida

The most expensive parts of building a house the conventional way are labor and materials, with labor being most expensive. You need carpenters, plumbers, electricians, and roofers. Window installers. Kitchen cabinet specialists. Someone to lay the concrete foundation. For custom homes, an architect. And the list goes on.

The competition, ICON’s Initiative 99, aims to address this problem; hoping 3D printing of homes could be a radical solution to the problem. The competition seeks to create a new approach to the design of affordable housing units. Entrants will not just focus on low costs: the home must be architecturally sound, designed for a particular climate, and offer strength and flexibility to adapt to future needs. If an entry wins the competition, it will be fully built onsite in Austin.

Legislations have been enacted to prevent 'gentrification' and preserve affordable housing such as The Rental Affordability Act 2018 in California

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