Inside the village that's entirely 3D printed

Welcome to the future...

A village in a Northeast Austin neighbourhood in Texas is being built by a 3D printer.

Named the Community First Village, the cluster of 400-square-foot tiny houses were built to help tackle homelessness in the most expensive city in Texas.

The 51-acre development (which will eventually include more than 500 homes) provides affordable permanent housing, including theses new 3-D printed homes. So far the village has provided housing for 180 formerly homeless people, while also providing jobs on-site and charging $300 (£233) in monthly rent.

The company behind the advanced technology is Austin-based Icon, and their 3D printer, named Vulcan II, has been revolutionising the housing industry as it's speeding up the build process, while also making it cheaper. The printer, which is remotely controlled by a tablet, is electrically powered and needs a crew of just four to six people to build a house. The printer is capable of printing structures as large as 2,000 square feet.

The 3D printer can print three houses simultaneously, and complete the walls in just over 24 hours.The Vulcan II prints out layers of Lavacrete, Icon's custom proprietary concrete that is reportedly cheaper than typical building materials, and more resilient too.

The process cuts the time and cost in half, when compared to traditional construction, plus it limits the environmental footprint and trims the number of workers needed. The process also allows for more design freedom.

Each of the 400-square-foot homes has a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and living room.

For now, the printer produces the walls of the home, while the rest of the construction is more traditional, with professionals laying a foundation and adding in features like a roof and windows, although Icon is considering adding plumbing and electrical work to the printer.

Icon first used the technology in Mexico last year, where it built two 500-square-foot homes and charged residents just $20 in rent.

The Texas-based startup is hoping that 3D printing is the key to solving the US' homelessness crisis and lack of affordable housing.

We're sure the technology will soon be adopted internationally. Could this be the answer to the world's homeless and refugee crisis? Who knows, but here's to hoping.

Lotte Brouwer

Lotte is the Digital Editor for Livingetc, and has been with the website since its launch. She has a background in online journalism and writing for SEO, with previous editor roles at Good Living, Good Housekeeping, Country & Townhouse, and BBC Good Food among others, as well as her own successful interiors blog. When she's not busy writing or tracking analytics, she's doing up houses, two of which have features in interior design magazines. She's just finished doing up her house in Wimbledon, and is eyeing up Bath for her next project.