Austinites will be able to walk the curved halls of ICON’s newest 3D-printed home, House Zero, for themselves during SXSW weekend.
Designed in tandem with Lake|Flato Architects—the firm behind South Congress development Music Lane—House Zero is the first of ICON’s “exploration series,” which shows how 3D-printed construction can be customized, such as with curved walls.
As an official partner of SXSW, ICON will host tours from March 13-14.
@austonianews East Austin’s House Zero is meant to show all the uses of 3D-printing construction. Read about how to tour the house at SXSW on austonia.com! #atx♬ original sound - Austonia
Printed in less than two weeks using ICON’s proprietary cement-like material, “Lavacrete,” co-founder and CEO Jason Ballard said he hopes the home helps push the boundaries of what to expect from housing.
Behind Jason Ballard, there's not a single straight line making up the walls at the front of the house. (Laura Figi/Austonia)
“This is really an exercise in expanding people's imaginations.” Ballard told Austonia. “I hope people see this and realize not only that we cannot accept the way that we're building right now, but when you see this as you don't want to accept it anymore. You realize much more fantastic futures are possible.”
At more than 2,000 square feet, the home has three bedrooms, two-and-a-half bathrooms and a 350-square-foot one-bedroom, one-bathroom accessory dwelling unit just outside. Absence of corners and rigid straight lines, plus an open floor plan, give the home an organic feeling.
The living room connects to an office space and the kitchen. (Laura Figi/Austonia)
Floor-to-ceiling windows ensure that indoors are always brightly lit with natural light and natural cabinetry inside provides a seamless transition from outdoors to indoors.
Luxury finishes in bathrooms provide a spa-like experience with rain showers, detached bathtubs and countertop sinks.
Meanwhile, bedrooms are equipped with remote-controlled shades, so you can always wake up to morning light.
Though the ADU is small, a murphy bed, closet space lining the walls and massive windows make the home feel more spacious than it truly is. With a miniature induction stove, ample counter space and luxurious bathroom, the ADU can host short, long-term or even permanent guests.
On its way to its goal of ending the housing crisis in Austin, Ballard said ICON is now focusing on finishing its 100-home project in North Austin, which will be the world’s first 3D-printed neighborhood, and looks forward to continuing work with Community First! Village to build homes for the homeless.
“Often conversations about homelessness and housing affordability and housing supply, are like very depressing conversations and I hope this puts a hopeful exclamation point on the conversation,” Ballard said. “We can have sustainability, we can have affordability, we can have increased supply, we can have dignity, we can have all the things that we want out of our houses. But we're gonna have to be brave enough to try some new things.”
Tours will run from 6-9 p.m. and SXSW badge holders will be given priority. Ballard will also deliver a featured talk to discuss the role of robotics in architecture on March 15 for SXSW.
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By Jonathan Lee
The Planning Commission was split Tuesday on whether to help save an eclectic lakefront estate from demolition by zoning it historic amid concerns over tax breaks and the likelihood that a previous owner participated in segregation as a business owner.
The property in question, known as the Delisle House, is located at 2002 Scenic Drive in Tarrytown. The main house, with Spanish and Modern influences, was built in 1923 by Raymond Delisle, an optician. A Gothic Revival accessory apartment was built in 1946. The current owner applied to demolish the structures in order to build a new home.'
Historic preservationists, for their part, overwhelmingly support historic zoning, which would preserve the buildings in perpetuity. The Historic Landmark Commission unanimously voted to initiate historic zoning in July, citing architectural significance, landscape features and association to historic figures. City staffers recommend historic zoning, calling both structures one-of-a-kind examples of vernacular architecture.
Tarrytown neighbors have also banded together to stop the demolition. Many have written letters, and a few spoke at the meeting. “How could anyone buy this property with the intent of destroying it?” Ila Falvey said. “I think it’s an architectural treasure.”
Michael Whellan, an attorney representing the property owner, said that the claims made by preservationists are shaky. The buildings are run down, he said, and have had substantial renovations. A structural engineer hired by the owner said any attempt at preservation would involve tearing down and rebuilding – an undertaking Whellan said would likely cost millions.
Whellan also argued that any historical significance derived from the property’s association with Delisle and longtime owner C.H. Slator is dubious. “These men are not noted for any civic, philanthropic or historic impact,” he said.
What’s more, according to Whellan, Slator likely participated in segregation as the owner of the Tavern on North Lamar Boulevard between 1953 and 1960.
A city staffer, however, said she found no evidence to support the claim. “We would never landmark a property where a segregationist lived, or there was a racist person,” Kimberly Collins with the Historic Preservation Office said.
Commissioner Awais Azhar couldn’t support historic zoning in part due to lingering uncertainty about Slator. “Focusing on that factor is not here to disparage an individual or family. It is not about playing the race card. This is an important assertion for us to consider as Planning commissioners,” Azhar said.
Commissioner Carmen Llanes Pulido said that allegations of racism should come as no surprise. “We’re talking about white male property owners in the 1950s, in Austin, on the west side – and of course they were racist,” she said. But she argued that allowing the house to be demolished based on these grounds does nothing to help people of color who have been harmed by racism and segregation.
The question of tax breaks was also controversial. Michael Gaudini, representing the property owner, said that the tax breaks associated with historic zoning would exacerbate inequality by shifting property tax burdens to less affluent communities. City staffers estimate that the property, appraised at $3.5 million, would get either a $8,500 or $16,107 property tax break annually, depending on whether a homestead exemption is applied.
Commissioner Grayson Cox preferred the commission focus not on tax breaks but on whether the structures merit preservation. “To me, nothing in the historic preservation criteria lists, is this person deserving of a tax break or not?”
Azhar, on the other hand, said he plans to propose a code amendment getting rid of city property tax breaks for historic properties.
The commission fell one vote short of recommending historic zoning, with six commissioners in support and three opposed. Azhar and commissioners Claire Hempel and Greg Anderson voted against.
The odds of City Council zoning over an owner’s wishes are slim. Nine out of 11 members must vote in favor, and there have only been a handful of such cases over the past several decades.
What's new in Austin food & drink this week:
- Nau's Enfield Drug closing after losing their lease. Did McGuire Moorman Lambert buy the building, with its vintage soda fountain?
- Nixta Taqueria Chef Edgar Rico named to Time Magazine's Time 100 Next influencer list, after winning a James Beard Award earlier this year.
- Question: From what BBQ joint did pescatarian Harry Styles order food this week?
- Austin Motel is opening the pool and pool bar Wednesday nights in October for Freaky Floats.
- Vincent's on the Lake closing due to "economic conditions and low water levels [at Lake Travis]."
- Cenote has closed its Windsor Park location. The East Cesar Chavez location remains open.
- The Steeping Room on N. Lamar has closed.
- Local startup It's Skinnyscored new financing for its gluten-free pasta business.
- P. Terry's opened a new location in Kyle, at 18940 IH-35.