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And finally… 3D-printed community set to relieve California housing crisis

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The desert landscape of California’s Coachella Valley will soon be home to the first US neighbourhood comprised entirely of 3D-printed houses.

Through a partnership between sustainable property development group Palari and construction technology company Mighty Buildings, a five-acre parcel of land in Rancho Mirage will be transformed into a planned community of 15 3D-printed, eco-friendly homes claiming to be the first of its kind.

“This will be the first on-the-ground actualisation of our vision for the future of housing,” said Alexey Dubov, the co-founder and chief operating officer of Mighty Buildings.

The company creates homes using massive 3D printers the size of small garages. The material used by Mighty Buildings hardens almost immediately, allowing a roof, layers of insulation, and exterior features such as an overhang to be added all in one process.

The company’s printers have the capacity to make a home in less than 24 hours, said Sam Ruben, the co-founder and chief sustainability officer of Mighty Buildings.

Often the printers are set to build a house overnight, while the employees are asleep. “We are limited more by road transport of the buildings than the actual ability to print,” Ruben said.

Mighty Houses
Mighty Houses

The Rancho Mirage homes will each feature mid-century modern architecture and consist of a three-bedroom, two-bath primary residence, along with a secondary residence on the property of two bedrooms and one bath.

Each home’s lot will have a swimming pool in the backyard and the option to pay extra for amenities such as hot tubs, fire pits and outdoor showers. Prices will start at $595,000 (£430,000) and go up to $950,000 (£685,000) for a two-home configuration with upgrades.

Rancho Mirage is not the first place to see 3D-printed homes. In 2019 a non-profit organisation in Mexico announced the production of 3D-printed homes for low-income families, and 3D-printed homes are scheduled to be installed in Austin, Texas, later this year.

The rise of 3D-printed homes comes as California’s housing crisis continues to rage. The state needs between 1.8m and 3.5m new housing units by 2025 to address the shortage and accommodate projected population growth.

Ruben said that while Mighty Buildings had spoken with local governments about the potential to 3D print homes for vulnerable populations, the company was largely focused on targeting what he calls “the missing middle”.

“The missing middle is too often left out of the conversation,” he said. “These are your teachers, your firefighters, people who serve a community, but because of how insane the housing market is in California, they have never had the opportunity to buy a home.”

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