3D-Printed Minimalist Commune Planned for West Texas

It plans to break ground in 2024.

El Cosmico is a nomadic hotel and campground spanning 21 acres deep in West Texas, a little desert town called Marfa. The area is a hub for the arts and nomads with a unique credo that life should balance adventure and do-nothingness – angering parents everywhere. The site offers spartan accommodations, including simple structures from trailers to tepees, safari tents and rustic campsites. The property also has several communal spaces for guests to loiter around.

Last week, former chief creative officer of Bunkhouse and hospitality visionary Liz Lambert joined forces with large-scale 3D printing construction company Icon and renowned architecture firm BIG or the Bjarke Ingels Group, to reimagine and rebuild El Cosmico.

El Cosmico will be relocated and rebuilt as part of an expansion on more than 60 acres of land. The centerpiece will be new architectural structures only possible using large-scale 3D printing, including domes, arches, vaults and parabolic forms. 

The new El Cosmico plans to break ground in 2024 and celebrate the convergence of creative culture and minimalism. They want to use Icon’s advanced construction technologies, which combine proprietary 3D printing robotics, software and advanced materials, to build structures that look like they grew from the ground. 

Lambert envisions the space reborn with communal areas, like a pool, a Turkish bath and more space for art and skills-building workshops, as well as affordable housing. Lambert was drawn to 3D-printing construction because it marries the oldest principles of raw earth-based building with a futuristic technology that works more quickly, sustainably and efficiently than modern construction.

The new hotel and homes will feature organic curves and domes, more specifically, a primordial architectural language that 3D printing can only achieve. 3D printing makes it possible to create soft shapes and curved surfaces. The project will also serve as a proof of concept that could lead to 3D printing being used in Marfa to build affordable housing. Icon and other 3D printing construction outfits have long championed the ability of 3D printing to create low-cost but rugged, affordable housing faster than current techniques. 

BIG will design two, three and four-bedroom homes that range from 1,200 sq. ft to 2,200 sq., and reservations begin in Summer 2023. 

The teams also partnered with The Long Center for the Performing Arts to bring a taste of El Cosmico to Austin, Texas. The team is building the first 3D-printed performance pavilion that will use the same architectural design themes as those planned for at the new El Cosmico in Marfa.

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