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El Cosmico – The 3D Printed Hotel

El Cosmico – The 3D Printed Hotel
23 March 2023

The possibilities of large-scale 3D printing have been demonstrated in the construction of El Cosmico, a campground hotel in Marfa, Texas.

Hotel designer Liz Lambert,  technology company ICON and architect Bjarke Ingels Group have renovated the site, extending it by 60 acres. It is now a series of domes, arches, vaults and parabolic forms with a pool, spa, and shared communal facilities.


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“I have had a vision for the evolution of El Cosmico for many years that includes several spaces that add to the experience both for guests and locals – a pool, a hammam, and more space for art and skills-building workshops,” said Liz Lambert.

“In collaborating with the revolutionary thinkers at BIG and ICON, not only do I get to fulfill this dream, but we get to do it using this incredible 3D printing technology that marries the oldest principles of raw earth-based building with a futuristic technology that works more quickly, sustainably and efficiently than modern construction. What’s more, the innovation and beauty of the types of structures we can build extends far beyond the box. It’s fitting that ICON has a contract with NASA to build the first dwellings on the moon and on Mars. I’m excited that we get to explore their incredible work right here in our own little cosmic landscape under the stars in far West Texas.”

The new hotel features organic curves and domes, achieved by 3D printing. ICON’s technology creates soft shapes and curved surfaces, and a single 3D printed wall spirals around a raised bed platform to provide a unique framed view to the sky.



Picture: a photograph of one of the bedrooms at El Cosmico, with it's single 3D printed curved wall. Image Credit: ICON and BIG


“Our collaboration with El Cosmico and ICON has allowed us to pursue the formal and material possibilities of cutting-edge 3D-printed construction untethered by the traditional limitations of a conventional site or client,” said Bjarke Ingels, Founder & Creative Director of BIG.

“Liz Lambert's legacy for reimagining hospitality and her pioneering of a contemporary Texan aesthetic combined with the minimalistic nature and culture, art and landscape of Marfa has been the perfect fit to pursue a new architectural vernacular language for El Cosmico in Marfa. Organic shapes, Euclidian circular geometries and a color palette born from the local terroir makes El Cosmico feel as if literally erected from the site it stands on.”


Construction-Scale 3D Printing


Construction-scale 3D printing, one of the newest types of construction technology, uses modelling data to create sometimes complicated structures without the use of tools or fixtures. This gives new creative freedom that would not be possible using traditional methods.

ICON uses a cement-like material, lavacrete, which boasts a compressive strength of 2,000 - 3,500 pound-force per square inch. In structural tests, these wall systems exceeded building code design requirements by more than 350 per cent

ICON has already raised $451 million to date in funding, and their vision is to deliver communities of energy-efficient 3D-printed homes.  ICON hopes to assess the opportunity to 3D-print affordable housing in Marfa to serve the evolving needs of the town.

Picture: a photograph of the exterior of some of the hotels accommodation, showing curved pods. Image Credit: ICON and BIG

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 23 March 2023


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