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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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."
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."
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 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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