I stayed in a luxury 3D printed home in Austin, Texas, and I’m now convinced the tech is the future of home construction

Brittany Chang/Insider

  • The Texas 3D printing construction company Icon unveiled its new 2,000-square-foot home, House Zero.

  • I spent a night in the luxurious home and believe 3D printing is the future of home construction.

  • Icon’s printer system produced the most unusual walls I’ve seen inside a home.

I spent a night inside a luxury 3D printed home and am now convinced the technology has a place in the future of home construction.

A bedroom down a hall.

Brittany Chang/Insider

In early March, the 3D printing home-construction company Icon unveiled House Zero, an over-2,000-square-foot 3D printed home in Austin, Texas.

The exterior of the 3D printed House Zero.

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The walls of the main home and its accessory dwelling unit were printed at the same time in eight days despite weather and hardware issues.

The exterior of Icon's 3D printed House Zero's ADU on a cloudy day.

Brittany Chang/Insider

The team then spent five months finishing the rest of the home, like window installation, wiring, and plumbing.

A 3D printed wall under a wood roof.

Brittany Chang/Insider

When the home was completed, Icon invited me to spend a night in the new three-bedroom, 2-½ bathroom build …

A wavy 3D printed wall in front of a bed.

Brittany Chang/Insider

… and the unique construction tech, curved concrete walls, and high-end finishes made House Zero one of the most interestingly designed homes in which I’ve stayed.

A mirror leaning against a 3D printed wall reflecting a bed next to the mirror.

Brittany Chang/Insider

Spending a night in House Zero made me realize 3D printing homes could be a strategic and functional construction method while still producing beautiful yet comfortable homes.

The driveway leading up to House Zero.

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Many 3D printing enthusiasts view the tech as a path toward alleviating housing shortages and improving affordability.

Green plants against a 3D printed wall.

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Like House Zero, a home that could take about a year to build “traditionally” can be printed and completed in just several months …

The car park of the 3D printed house.

Brittany Chang/Insider

… enabling home builders to construct housing cheaper, faster, and more sustainably by using fewer materials and less labor.

A lounge chair next to a light in the living room.

Brittany Chang/Insider

But while the technology may be heralded as a way to build more-affordable homes quicker, House Zero is far from an example of a budget-friendly home.

A cactus against a 3D printed wall.

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Source: Insider, Insider

The house — designed with the help of Lake Flato Architects — was styled to be a show home for Icon: a place to take investors, the public, and journalists.

A bed in front of a 3D printed wall next to a nightstand with a light.

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It was meant to flex the range and practicality of Icon’s printing technology, Jason Ballard, Icon’s cofounder and CEO, told Insider in an interview.

A dining table surrounded by curving 3D printed walls.

Brittany Chang/Insider

And like all stereotypical model homes, House Zero is filled with high-end furniture and finishes meant to woo even the most discerning visitors.

A light fixture in front of a 3D printed wall.

Brittany Chang/Insider

The rounded walls caught my attention as I drove by the Austin, Texas, home for the first time …

The exterior of Icon's 3D printed House Zero on a cloudy day.

Brittany Chang/Insider

… and were the first feature my eyes gravitated toward when I finally set foot inside the house.

White hanging lights next to a 3D printed wall.

Brittany Chang/Insider

I was immediately taken aback by the beautiful interior design and concrete curved walls, which far exceeded my expectations of a 3D printed home.

A lounge chair and light fixture in front of a 3D printed wall.

Brittany Chang/Insider

A building with this much exposed concrete is often associated with brutalist architecture, but nothing about House Zero screamed “brutalism” to me.

The exterior of Icon's 3D printed House Zero on a cloudy day.

Brittany Chang/

Icon’s in-house “high strength” concrete combined with the curved wall design made House Zero look organic and free-flowing.

A mirror leaning against a 3D printed wall reflecting a bed.

Brittany Chang/Insider

Until this build I had never seen a layered sloping wall before. And now, I want something similar in my future home.

A hallway with a bathroom to the left and a bedroom down the hall.

Brittany Chang/Insider

And it’s not just for aesthetic reasons. The shape strengthens the home’s structure while serving as a natural open-air separation of space.

The bed behind a 3D printed wall.

Brittany Chang/Insider

Icon’s 3D printing technology enables it to easily print curved walls, a feat that would be remarkably more difficult if done using “traditional” construction methods.

A kitchen with a stove and oven.

Brittany Chang/Insider

“We’re not only going to invent robots — we’re also going to invent architecture,” Ballard said. “And it’s not clear that robotics companies have any business inventing architecture.”

A desk in front of a 3D printed wall surrounded by windows.

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Curvature aside, the striking layered walls — which were strengthened with steel and insulation — were unlike anything I had seen inside a home.

A bed in front of a 3D printed wall

Brittany Chang/Insider

There was no need for art on the walls — the gray layers naturally became a focal point of the home’s rooms …

A console table with a plant in front of a 3D printed wall.

Brittany Chang/Insider

… while the wooden walls and accents kept the space from appearing too cold and drab.

3D printed walls in between wooden walls.

Brittany Chang/Insider

The first room off the entryway is the open-concept kitchen, living room, and dining room.

The living room inside the 3D printed home with lounge chairs, a rug, plants, and lights.

Brittany Chang/Insider

To create natural separations of space, these areas were all sectioned off using the concave shape of the walls.

A lounge chair next to a light in the living room.

Brittany Chang/Insider

The dining room was enveloped in a cocoon of concrete, creating an alluring and modern space.

A dining room surrounded by 3D printed walls.

Brittany Chang/Insider

I had never seen a room like this before, and it instantly became my favorite part of the home.

The dining room with a bowl of fruit and dried grass.

Brittany Chang/Insider

Because it was only partially sectioned off, the dining room still flowed into the kitchen and the living room.

A kitchen filled with natural light from the windows. There are features like drawers, a stove and oven, and bar items.

Brittany Chang/Insider

Compared with a New York City apartment, the kitchen in House Zero felt especially large …

Cookbooks and plants in the kitchen in front of a window.

Brittany Chang/Insider

… and had all the amenities of a luxury kitchen, including a walk-in pantry.

A walk-in pantry with food items.

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It also opened perfectly into the living room, which had comfortable seats and a wall-mounted television hidden behind a tapestry.

The living room inside the 3D printed home with lounge chairs, a rug, plants, and lights.

Brittany Chang/Insider

This would’ve been the perfect space for entertaining, but I was, after all, staying in someone else’s home.

The living room inside the 3D printed home with lounge chairs, a rug, plants, and lights.

Brittany Chang/Insider

A sizable workstation was located just behind this common space. I don’t enjoy facing a wall while I work, but there’s no denying this corner was beautifully designed and curated.

A desk in front of a 3D printed wall surrounded by windows.

Brittany Chang/Insider

The hallway directly behind this space leads into the half-bathroom and primary bedroom.

A hallway with a bright window at the end.

Brittany Chang/Insider

The home has three bedrooms, and I opted to sleep in the largest one with an en-suite bathroom.

The bed behind a 3D printed wall surrounded by bedroom furniture like nightstands, lights, and a mirror.

Brittany Chang/Insider

The bathroom far surpassed the ones I’ve seen inside a hotel or Airbnb.

Two sinks and mirrors in a bathroom.

Brittany Chang/Insider

The focal point of the room was the shower and bathtub, which sat in their own space separated by a small glass panel.

The bathroom with a shower and tub.

Brittany Chang/Insider

This bathing space also had a concave wall. But unlike the living room, the concrete layers were covered with a smooth gray finish.

The primary bedroom with a bathroom to the left and the bed further down the hall to the right.

Brittany Chang/Insider

The bathtub and shower relied on a touchscreen panel to control the water and its temperature, a tech-forward feature I had never used before.

Two sinks and mirrors in a bathroom.

Brittany Chang/Insider

But other than spending a few seconds learning how to use this system, I continued about my nighttime routine as I would in a “normal” home.

A desk in front of a 3D printed wall.

Brittany Chang/Insider

And the primary bedroom where I slept was just that, a bedroom. Though it was accented with this wavy printed wall.

A curving 3D printed wall.

Brittany Chang/Insider

Like the primary bathroom, the half bathroom’s layered concrete walls were covered in a similarly smooth but dark finish, creating a cave-like space.

A bathroom with a toilet, mirror, and sink. The room has dark accents.

Brittany Chang/Insider

The second full bathroom was located at the other end of the home between the two additional bedrooms, though one had been converted into a home office.

A bathroom with dual sinks, mirrors, and lights. There's a robe hanging on the wall.

Brittany Chang/Insider

I spent most of my night in the primary bedroom and living room, so I didn’t frequent this half of the house.

A mirror leaning against a 3D printed wall reflecting a bed.

Brittany Chang/Insider

But the morning light that streamed into the bedroom turned office beautifully highlighted its walls and wooden finishes.

Light and shadows shining on a shelving storage.

Brittany Chang/Insider

My stay inside the 3D printed home wrapped up without a single mishap and with one good night’s rest.

A bedroom surrounded by 3D printed walls. There's a bed with a nightstand and light

Brittany Chang/Insider

In retrospect, I definitely gawked at the unique construction throughout my first few hours in the home.

The exterior of Icon's 3D printed House Zero on a cloudy day.

Brittany Chang/Insider

But after the awe of staying inside a 3D printed abode wore off, the reality of my surroundings settled in.

A bathroom with dual sinks, mirrors,

Brittany Chang/Insider

In reality, House Zero was nothing more than a home filled with luxurious furniture and high-end finishes constructed in a unique manner.

The living room inside the 3D printed home with lounge chairs, a rug, plants, and lights.

Brittany Chang/Insider

It’s comfortable, perfectly livable, and unfussy. I had no difficulties or an adjustment period trying to make myself at home.

The living room inside the 3D printed home with lounge chairs, a rug, plants, and lights.

Brittany Chang/Insider

I didn’t feel as if I were missing anything. There were plenty of outlets, bright lights, and endless storage options — everything I could want in a home.

Light and shadows shining on a shelving storage in the home office.

Brittany Chang/Insider

Sure, the furniture is nice, and, sure, they use fancy Aesop hand soap, but at the end of the day the pretty home is just that — a typical (luxury) home.

A bedroom surrounded by 3D printed walls. There's a bed with a nightstand and light.

Brittany Chang/Insider

The only feature that differentiated it from any other high-end home was its layered and curved walls.

A desk in front of a 3D printed wall with large windows nearby.

Brittany Chang/Insider

And in retrospect, that’s exactly what I was hoping for: a normal house.

A mirror leaning against a 3D printed wall reflecting a bed next to the mirror.

Brittany Chang/

The 3D printing home-construction technology is still in its infancy, but it already has the potential to build homes quickly, inexpensively, and sustainably.

A 3D printed walal behind a mirror and countertop.

Brittany Chang/Insider

We’re currently in a dire housing and homelessness crisis, and 3D printing seems to be a viable solution to this massive issue.

The exterior of Icon's 3D printed House Zero on a cloudy day.

Brittany Chang/Insider

And if that’s the case, this efficient construction method could become the future of homebuilding.

A bedroom surrounded by 3D printed walls. There's furniture like a mirror, bed, nightstands, and lights.

Brittany Chang/Insider

And for those who don’t like change, House Zero proves that the tech can produce the type of homes we’ve grown used, just with a slightly cooler look and in a more efficient manner.

The exterior of Icon's 3D printed House Zero on a cloudy day.

Brittany Chang/Insider

“I don’t want to build a worse world faster and cheaper,” Ballard said. “I want to build a better world faster and cheaper.”

The exterior of Icon's 3D printed House Zero on a cloudy day.

Brittany Chang/Insider

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