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World’s first 3D Printed Hotel being built in Marfa, Texas

Liz Lambert has teamed with ICON and BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group to construct World’s First 3D Printed Hotel New El Cosmico in Marfa,Texas.

The demand for 3D printing in construction is growing steadily. This growing demand for 3D printing in construction can be attributed to its ability to streamline construction processes. It allows for quick and precise fabrication of complex structures, reducing construction time and costs. Moreover, it reduces material waste and allows for greater design flexibility, making it increasingly popular across the globe. As per Grand View Research report, the global 3D printing construction market size was valued at USD 18,175.7 thousand in 2022 and is projected to register a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 101.9% from 2023 to 2030. It is being widely used to construct affordable residential houses, commercial buildings, high-rise structures, temples etc.

What is 3d printing in construction?

3D printing in construction refers to the automated process of manufacturing construction elements or entire structures by using large-scale 3D printers. It involves using additive manufacturing techniques to create three-dimensional structures layer by layer. This innovative approach is often referred to as “contour crafting” in construction. It typically utilises concrete or other construction materials, with a robotic arm or gantry system depositing layers to build up the desired structure. 


  • Can accelerate construction processes, leading to faster project completion times.
  • Reduce labour costs, making construction more economically viable.
  • Complex and intricate architectural designs can be easily achieved through 3D printing.
  • Structures can be tailored to specific project requirements.
  • Minimise material waste and energy consumption, contributing sustainable construction practices.
  • Facilitates on-site or off-site printing, making it feasible to construct in challenging or remote locations.
  • Allows for precise material usage, optimising resource utilisation.

As awareness of these benefits is spreading, the demand for 3D printing in construction continues to rise. In regard to this growing awareness, Bjarke Ingels, in collaboration with Icon and hotel proprietor Liz Lambert, is constructing the world’s first 3D-printed hotel in Marfa, Texas. This innovative project utilises 3d printing robots to construct structures that are durable and environmentally friendly compared to traditional construction methods.

Project Overview:

Located on 62 acres of desert in Marfa, Texas, the project relocates and expands Lambert’s existing 21-acre El Cosmico campground hotel. In its new form, the hotel will be reinvented with domed guest units, a circular infinity pool, an open-air bathhouse, an outdoor kitchen, and organically shaped communal facilities for art and making. In addition to the hospitality spaces, the property will also include a community of two-, three-, and four-bedroom Sunday Homes for purchase as private vacation residences. 

The visionary behind the project, AD100 architect Bjarke Ingels, brings a unique touch to the structures. Applying euclidean geometry, Ingels incorporates skylights into curved ceilings, allowing guests to enjoy the starry night sky. This design aligns seamlessly with the eccentric nature of Lambert’s hotel brand.

“Our collaboration with El Cosmico and Icon has allowed us to pursue the formal and material possibilities of cutting-edge 3D-printed construction without the traditional limitations of a conventional site or client,” Ingels says. 

Sunday homes will be available at El Cosmico campground hotel

Aesthetic Integration and Interior Design:

In a departure from local architectural traditions, the domed buildings and round houses seamlessly blend into the desert landscape with their sand-colored materiality. Despite their modernity, they exude a natural aesthetic, appearing as if they have organically grown from the surrounding desert. A performance pavilion in Austin, Texas, provides a glimpse of this natural integration, resembling an eroded cliff in the heart of the city.

 The 3d Printing Technology Used For The Project:

Icon, the Austin-based startup spearheading this project, leverages advanced large-scale 3D printing technology. Their robots, known as the Vulcan , represent a paradigm shift in construction. Unlike the tabletop 3D printers of the past decade, Icon’s machines can construct full-scale buildings. According to the company, this technology allows for the creation of 3D-printed structures that are not only 350% stronger but also significantly faster to build, with reduced waste compared to traditional construction methods. 

Speed is another important advantage of Icon’s technology. The automated nature of 3D printing, coupled with the precise movements of the robotic systems, significantly reduces the time required for construction. This acceleration in the building process not only enhances project timelines but also contributes to cost-effectiveness.Another notable aspect of Icon’s innovation is its commitment to sustainability. By minimizing waste in the construction process, the technology aligns with eco-friendly principles. 

The truly unique and divergent architectures made possible by 3D printing are really just beginning,” said Jason Ballard, co-founder and CEO of ICON..“One of the great joys of ICON is putting our technology into the hands of great creatives and seeing what possibilities emerge. The collaboration with Liz and Bjarke is a total dream, and it’s a tremendous honor for us to join them at the forefront of design and architecture. Liz is truly the Queen of Cool and one of the national treasures of Texas. It is incredible to help her cosmic imaginings become earthly reality,” he added.

Performance Pavilion at El Cosmico campground hotel

Architectural Design:

Bjarke Ingels, a highly regarded architect, brings a distinctive vision to the project, infusing it with creativity and innovation. His design incorporates intriguing elements such as gracefully curved ceilings with skylights, inspired by the principles of Euclidean geometry. These features, while visually striking, serve a deeper purpose by aligning seamlessly with the unconventional and quirky essence of Liz Lambert’s El Cosmico brand. The fusion of advanced 3D printing techniques and architecturally compelling structures becomes the defining characteristic of this collaboration, marking a departure from conventional architectural practices.

By skillfully fusing geometric precision with organic forms, Ingels not only elevates the visual appeal but also creates a space that resonates with the ethos of El Cosmico.The design philosophy adopted transcends traditional boundaries, offering a unique and immersive experience that challenges established norms. The result is a testament to the transformative power of innovative design thinking, shaping not only the physical landscape but also the narrative and experience of the space.

The Nomadic Hospitality Concept:

The nomadic concept refers to a trend in hotel design and hospitality that emphasizes flexibility, adaptability, and a dynamic guest experience. It involves creating spaces and services that cater to the modern traveller’s desire for variety and a sense of exploration within the hotel environment.

However, El Cosmico’s Nomadic Hospitality Concept is different from regular luxury hotels. Instead of fancy rooms, it focuses on nature, community, and fun activities. Think of it like camping but with a twist. Liz Lambert, a legendary Austin hotel proprietor,  started this trend, and now El Cosmico takes it up a notch with cool 3D-printed structures. These structures give guests a break from the busy modern world, creating a unique place that mixes technology with nature. The hotel isn’t just about a comfy bed; it’s a place to relax, enjoy nature, and rethink what luxury means. It’s like a cozy retreat where you connect with the surroundings and other people, offering a different and more relaxed kind of hospitality.

Human Involvement in Construction:

While the 3D printing process brings automation to the forefront, it does not negate the need for human expertise. Tasks such as setting up and maintaining 3D printers, overseeing digital operations, and managing various construction elements are essential components for the success of this innovative project.

Historical Significance:

Marfa, with its roots dating back to 1882 when the railway reached the area, has evolved from a simple watering stop into a vibrant town. Its Hollywood connections, showcased in the filming of “Giant” in 1955, added to its allure. The construction of the 3D-printed hotel marks another chapter in Marfa’s storied history, blending modern innovation with the town’s rich heritage.


As the first 3D-printed hotel prepares to open its doors in 2024, Marfa, Texas, cements its status as a hub for architectural experimentation and innovation. The project marks a significant step in the application of 3D printing technology to create architecturally innovative and sustainable spaces, pushing the boundaries of traditional construction methods.



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