Automated Home Building

ICON, Lennar and Bjarke Ingels Group partner to create a 3D-printed 100-home community equipped with solar panels.


ONE OF THE BARRIERS TO IMPROVING how our homes are constructed to take advantage of new energy management technologies, resiliency and overall performance is that for the most part, home-building is a very labor-intensive industry. And when you are used to deploying an army of sub-contractors, pumping out as many homes as possible – and they’re selling! – builders are naturally loath to change. Especially moving away from a tried-and-true development model.

But what’s happening north of Austin, Texas in the city of Georgetown’s master-planned community known as Wolf Ranch, is likely to create major disruption in the build community. ICON, a large-scale 3D printing company, is partnering with Lennar and design firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) to create a 100-home community — 3D printed and equipped with solar panels in a demonstration of how resiliency and environmentally sustainable housing can be created affordably and luxuriously.

Here’s the kicker and the point of this article – the basic, fundamental construction is automated. Let me share ICON’s description of their build process and the near-term future:

Jason Ballard, Co-Founder and CEO, says, “For the first time in the history of the world, what we’re witnessing here is a fleet of robots building an entire community of homes. And not just any homes, homes that are better in every way … better design, higher strength, higher energy performance and comfort, and increased resiliency.

“In the future,” says Jason, “I believe robots and drones will build entire neighborhoods, towns and cities, and we’ll look back at Lennar’s Wolf Ranch community as the place where robotic construction at scale began. We still have a long way to go, but I believe this marks a very exciting and hopeful turn in the way we address housing issues in the world.”

In this new scenario, every trade will have to adapt to new realities. Not tomorrow necessarily, but certainly in the near future, say 10 years. Keeping informed as to how technologies are changing the residential design-build landscape is obviously what we’re all about here at TD, so stay tuned, get connected with a technology designer in your community, and welcome to a brave new world.

See Lennar’s video and overview of the project here.