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A prototype of a home design

ICON launches $1 million competition to design affordable housing prototypes

Promotion: US construction technology company ICON has launched a global architecture competition calling architects and designers to submit 3D-printed designs that can be built for under $99,000.

Initiative 99 is now open for entries and features a total prize of $1 million. A selection of winning designs will be built by ICON and showcased as models for the future affordable housing.

The competition will be judged by an expert panel of architects, academics and policymakers, including the founder of Danish studio Bjarke Ingels Group, Bjarke Ingels.

Picture of two young boys standing outside a house
The multi-phase competition is aimed at designing accessible, dignified and affordable housing that can be 3D printed with large scale construction technology

According to ICON, there are barriers to realising affordable housing prototypes at scale. The company believes that the current approach to addressing the global housing crisis is not working as 1.2 billion globally lack adequate shelter.

"We need a moonshot for affordable housing, and I believe Initiative 99 will be the most important architectural competition in history," said ICON co-founder and CEO Jason Ballard.

"The current affordable housing landscape seems to have been designed and built without taking beauty, aesthetics, comfort, sustainability, and resiliency as serious requirements," he continued.

"It's time we attack this problem just as energetically as we've addressed other human challenges in the past."

Picture of the inside of a 3D printed home
ICON has committed to building a selection of the winning designs at multiple locations

The competition aims to unite the built environment community to design a better future for "those who need it most".

"Our goal is that Initiative 99 would in turn create the conditions for affordable housing to be something hopeful, optimistic and exciting, and furthermore catalyses the building of some really incredible affordable homes that just years ago would not have even been possible," Ballard continued.

Architects and student architects from all over the world are encouraged to apply.

The multi-phase competition is now accepting submissions until 8 December 2023. Winners of phase one will be announced in March 2024 during SXSW in Austin, Texas.

Picture of women and two young boys sitting outside a house
According to ICON, there are barriers to realising affordable housing prototypes at scale

The Initiative 99 jury consists of an expert panel of architectural practitioners, academic leaders, policy makers and non-profit organisations who are "committed to realising affordable housing solutions".

These include architect and dean of architecture at University of Texas, Austin, Michelle Addington; chief sustainability officer at City of Austin, Lucia Athens; professor and founding chair at Columbia Conference on Architecture, Engineering and Materials at Columbia University, Michael Bell; associate director at Zaha Hadid Architects, Shajay Bhooshan; deputy director at CityLab and Department of Architecture, UCLA, Alejandra Guerrero; CEO and co-founder at New Story, Brett Hagler; chair and associate professor at UCLA Architecture and Urban Design, Mariana Ibanez; founder and creative director of Bjarke Ingels Group, Bjarke Ingels; leader at Housing Unit, UN-Habitat, Christophe Lalande; director of design at ICON, Michael McDaniel; associate dean of the Schack Institute of Real Estate, New York University, Marc Norman; and vice president of building design and performance at ICON, Melodie Yashar.

ICON develops advanced construction technologies using 3D printing robotics and advanced software with the aim of "shifting the paradigm of homebuilding on Earth and beyond".

To learn more about ICON visit its website.

Partnership content

This article was written by Dezeen for ICON as part of a partnership. Find out more about Dezeen partnership content here.