ICON’s ‘initiative 99’ aims to tackle Affordable Housing with Construction 3D Printing

Since its founding in 2017, Austin-based construction technology company ICON has been exploring and achieving several milestones with construction 3D printing. From bohemian campsites, mars habitats, and mid-century inspired luxury, the team first made a real splash when it built a 3D printed house for underserved people.

This year will see a milestone that could be very impactful if successful: Initiative 99. The latter is a global architecture competition aimed at designing accessible, beautiful, and dignified homes that can be built for under $99,000.

Registration for the competition opens in the summer of 2023 and architects from all over the world including firms, individuals, and university students are encouraged to participate. The multi-phase, year-long competition offers a total prize purse of $1 million (USD). ICON has committed to building a selection of the winning designs at multiple locations to be announced in the future.

We need a moonshot for affordable housing, and I believe Initiative 99 will be the most important architectural competition in history,” said Jason Ballard, co-founder and CEO ICON. “The current affordable housing landscape seems to have been designed and built without taking beauty, aesthetics, comfort, sustainability, and resiliency as serious requirements. It’s time we attack this problem just as energetically as we’ve addressed other human challenges in the past.”

The vision of a home with construction costs under $99,000 has inspired and motivated city planners, developers, government officials and non-profit organizations for decades. And yet clear barriers subsist for realizing a truly affordable housing prototype at scale within communities that need them most. The current approach to homebuilding and addressing the global housing crisis is not working as more than 1.2 billion globally lack adequate shelter. Initiative 99 exists to unite the global architectural, design, and building community in a shared mission to build a better future for those that need it most.

Ballard continued, “With Initiative 99, we are changing the way that we talk about affordable housing. When we talk about affordable housing, the conversation is often depressing and so are the results. Our goal is that Initiative 99 would in turn create the conditions for affordable housing to be something hopeful, optimistic and exciting, and furthermore catalyzes the building of some really incredible affordable homes that just years ago would not have even been possible. The future could be a wonder, but we have to all work together to make it so.”


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