BIG and ICON unveil Mars Dune Alpha - a 3D-printed habitat for the red planet
by Jerry ElengicalAug 19, 2021
•make your fridays matter with a well-read weekend
by STIRworldPublished on : Mar 17, 2023
Danish architects Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), and ICON, a leader in advanced construction technology and 3D printing, have teamed up to work with hotelier Liz Lambert to rebuild and reimagine El Cosmico, a distinctive campground hotel in Marfa in Texas, with a vision to innovate luxury camping in the Texan desert. The proposed project aims to relocate and expand the campground to a 62-acre desert area, along with introducing a collection of radical new dwellings.
Together, they plan to extend and rebuild the existing El Cosmico campground to showcase an entirely new architectural approach, made possible by large-scale 3D printing—including domes, arches, vaults, and parabolic forms.
"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," mentioned Lambert in the official release. "In collaborating with the revolutionary thinkers at BIG and ICON, not only do I get to fulfil 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 am 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 El Cosmico project will comprise a campground, small circular and dome-topped vacation dwellings, and larger BIG-designed homes with up to four bedrooms that boast of expansive views of the Davis Mountains. ICON's proficiency in creating soft and curved surfaces makes this design come to life.
"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 and creative director of BIG, which has its offices in Copenhagen and New York. “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 colour palette born from the local terroir makes El Cosmico feel as if literally erected from the site it stands on," the press statement quoted him further.
The construction process will use ICON's Vulcan 3D printing system, which uses a proprietary cement-like mixture called Lavacrete. ICON's 3D-printing technology will create curved, hut-like structures using a concrete mix resembling desert sand. The use of 3D printing will automate the construction process, similar to how it can be utilised for building structures on the Moon or Mars.
A 3D-printed performance pavilion will be built by El Cosmico in Austin, Texas, to mark the occasion, in collaboration with The Long Center for the Performing Arts. The Long Center was established in 2008, and has since become a cultural icon of Austin, encouraging innovation and creativity via its dedication to the arts community and bringing people together through one-of-a-kind events.
The pavilion will embody the same design themes as seen in the new development in Marfa, including cosmic organisations, perfect geometries, and organic forms. It will serve as a landmark and gathering space for culture and community, in the heart of downtown Austin. The performance pavilion opened on March 15, 2023, in time for the city's South by Southwest festival.
The hotel project is scheduled to start taking reservations in the summer of 2023, while groundbreaking for the development is anticipated to take place in 2024. With this expansion, El Cosmico will continue to blend art, nature and hospitality, while providing unique experiences for its guests.
(Text by Khushi S Tandon, intern at STIRworld)
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