See inside a 3D-printed tiny home being built to help address LA's housing crisis

rendering of Solar Futures House
Woodbury University School of Architecture is 3D printing the exterior walls of its 425-square-foot tiny home, dubbed the Solar Futures House, as shown in its rendering.Woodbury University School of Architecture
  • Woodbury University School of Architecture's students and faculty are 3D printing a tiny home.

  • The team plans to finish its 425-square-foot Solar Futures House by the end of 2023 for between $250,000 to $350,000.

  • Construction 3D printers are increasingly being used to combat the US housing crisis.

Los Angeles could soon welcome its first permitted 3D-printed tiny home being built by an unexpected team.

No, this isn't Icon and Lennar's new development of 3D-printed homes. Nor is it local printing startup Azure's latest project.

Instead, Woodbury University School of Architecture's students and faculty are behind this 425-square-foot unit, dubbed the Solar Futures House.

people standing in front of an incomplete 3d printed home
Solar Futures House's design was Woodbury University School of Architecture's submission to the Solar Decathlon competition.Woodbury University School of Architecture

In 2022, the architecture school submitted its tiny home design to the US Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon competition. The prompt: Design and construct zero-energy buildings. Woodbury University's answer? A tiny home with 3D-printed exterior walls "as a means of addressing the housing crisis in Los Angeles," the department's spokesperson told Business Insider.

rendering of Solar Futures House
Woodbury University School of Architecture's 3D-printed tiny home will be topped with solar panels, according to its rendering.Woodbury University School of Architecture

Its futuristic design was a success. As one of the competition's finalists, the college used its $50,000 award to begin construction of the tiny home on its Burbank, California campus in September 2022 with a target completion date by the end of 2023, the spokesperson said.

ladder leaning against 3D printed wall with wood roof
The exterior walls were the only components built using a 3D printer.Woodbury University School of Architecture

When finished, the unit will be Los Angeles' first permitted 3D-printed home, according to Woodbury's architecture school. Its spokesperson estimates the project will have a final cost between $250,000 to $350,000 "including sponsorships and pro bono work."

person standing next to 3D printed wall and printer
Many startups use COBOD's BOD2 construction 3D printer.Woodbury University School of Architecture

To do so, the university is working with startup Emergent 3D, which uses COBOD's popular construction printer. This tech helped build the home's concrete walls during a three-day printing process.

people standing near 3D printing construction site
Construction 3D printers create a layered design.Woodbury University School of Architecture

Like many tiny homes printed or not, the Solar Futures House has an open studio apartment floor plan with a bathroom, kitchen, living room, and bedroom. Some of these spaces already look recognizable among the printed concrete and wood roofing.

collage of 3d printed bathroom amenities
The bathroom is located in a separate curved room from the rest of the studio.Woodbury University School of Architecture

A 15-month construction timeline for a 425-square-foot unit may seem gratuitous compared to traditional homebuilding processes and other existing 3D-printed homes. The architecture school's spokesperson said the home could've been built faster, but wasn't because of its "experimental nature" and "research and fundraising required along the way."

interior of 3d printed home with furniture
The home has spaces like a dining table, kitchen, and wall of windows.Woodbury University School of Architecture

But nobody's lining up to move in despite its desirable location less than a 10-minute drive from Hollywood Burbank Airport. When the home is complete, the college says it will use it as a "living educational laboratory."

3D printed home with furniture and wood walls
The college will use this home as an "ongoing learning and testing laboratory for students and faculty," a spokesperson for the department told Business Insider.Woodbury University School of Architecture

While there's no word on future 3D printing construction projects out of Woodbury University, the architecture department said it would like to continue its research to "refine methods of 3D printing that result in affordable and sustainable construction."

the BioHome3D by the University of Maine's ASCC
University of Maine's Advanced Structures and Composites Center's printed its BioHome3D using pellets made of wood waste and plastic binders.Brittany Chang/Insider

The California college isn't the only higher education institution exploring this growing construction tech. In 2022, the University of Maine's Advanced Structures and Composites Center built a 3D-printed tiny home, shown above, using its own printer and pellets made of sawmill-discarded wood waste. The northeast college has future plans to print a development of nine homes.

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