College students create 3D printed home that took only 15 months to build for $250,000

Phillip Palmer Image
Wednesday, October 18, 2023
College students' 3D printed home offers affordable housing solution
This 3D printed home took only 15 months to build from start to finish with a price tag of $250,000. This affordable housing solution is the work of a team of local college students.

BURBANK, Calif. (KABC) -- Tucked away on a small plot of the Woodbury University Campus in Burbank, is a concrete example of the future of homebuilding.

A 425-square-foot home, designed by Woodbury architecture students, is the first 3D printed structure to be permitted and built in the city of Los Angeles. From design to it's current form, it took only 15 months.

"It's a proof of concept that this really can be done and then can be repeated and scaled in a way that has a huge effect on our community but on the world at large even," says Dr. Barry Ryan, the president of Woodbury University.

The house was an entry into the solar decathlon, which is a collegiate competition encouraging designers to create a high performance structure powered by renewable energy - something the students are very proud of.

"I think it looks really nice. I'm glad that we kept it raw concrete...we didn't add any paints or anything like this on top of it so we can see all of the different layers and the actual material," explains recent Woodbury graduate Jade Royer.

Jessica Gomez is also a recent graduate who worked on the project.

"I also enjoy the kitchen because it uses a lot of sustainable materials as well.. so like the dining chairs and the table is made from recyclable paper, so we try to think sustainably from the building but also with how we wanted to furnish it," Gomez said.

The home's shower water is recirculated for toilet flushing, and the bending form and sloped roof are designed to maximize solar power. Mineral wool insulation also serves as a fire barrier. The concrete used helps reduce noise and preserve internal temperatures but is also an environmentally friendly formula.

The three-day printing was so precise, no concrete was wasted.

"It's a prototype, it's many things all rolled into one and that was really what we were offering Los Angeles and the community to sort of learn and incorporate in their projects, in their homes, just offering it as an example," says Kishani De Silva, the construction management chair at Woodbury University.

Over 30 organizations came together in support of the project with RM CONCRETE providing the labor for the traditional concrete components.

About two dozen students worked on what's the Solar Futures House and some were able to see it through from beginning to end.

Eventually, a Woodbury student might live here, but the open floor plan, complete with an outdoor living space was designed to meet any community's housing needs, able to conform to virtually any site conditions at a reasonable cost.

"It's funny, you think that advanced technology is more expensive, but the fact is, we were able to get this project built for just over $250,000, and that's incredibly affordable for housing in Los Angeles," said Heather Flood, the dean of Woodbury's School of Architecture.

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Having launched in August 2020, the program has expanded and is available to all nine LACCD campuses.