ICON and BIG reimagine nomadic campground El Cosmico with 3D-printing elements

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 El Cosmico

ICON, a large-scale 3D printing company has announced a collaboration with Hospitality Expert Liz Lambert and renowned architecture firm BIG Bjarke Ingels Group) on a project to relocate and expand the infamous nomadic campground hotel El Cosmico in Marfa, Texas, US.

The team plans to relocate and widen the area’s vistas to span a sweeping 60 acres, and it will remain a stage for innovative architecture, creative community, and experiencing nature on its own terms. The project area, Marfa is located in the high plains desert, at an altitude of approximately 1.5 kilometers (4800 feet).

The adobe-like color and texture of the horizontally layered wall appear like geological strata in an exposed cliff. Inspired by the Uruguayan engineer and architect Eladio Dieste, the sinuous curves at the foot of the pavilion provide both structural stability and social niches for the audience and performers.

 El Cosmico
 El Cosmico

“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. 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 color palette born from the local terroir make El Cosmico feel as if literally erected from the site it stands on.” said Bjarke Ingels, Founder & Creative Director, BIG.

According to Liz Lambert, El Cosmico intends to be more than a hotel, expanding the guest experience by including art and skill-building facilities, as well as the ability to see the effects of revolutionary technology firsthand. While the constructions are made feasible by advances in construction technology, 3D printing also integrates some of the oldest raw earth-based building concepts.


“In collaborating with the revolutionary thinkers at BIG and ICON, not only do I get to fulfill 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,” Lambert said. “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’m excited that we get to explore their incredible work right here in our own little cosmic landscape under the stars in far West Texas.”

According to the architects, the architecture of the reimagined El Cosmico hotel and apartments is likewise influenced by the connection between the high desert scenery and cosmic organizations. The architectural language employs soft curves and curved surfaces made feasible by ICON’s technology to create naturally shaped structures and domes. The initiative seeks to provide a natural continuation of the institution’s purpose of investigating the relationship between art, nature, and hospitality. The project will also provide 3D-printed affordable housing in Marfa to meet the town’s expanding needs.

“The truly unique and divergent architectures made possible by 3D printing are really just beginning. One of the great joys of ICON is putting our technology into the hands of great creatives and seeing what possibilities emerge,” said Jason Ballard, co-founder, and CEO of ICON.

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