Local architect Bryan Cook, the driving force behind Develop Architecture, joined forces with the nonprofit organization Citizen Robotics to bring this concept to life. Their mission: is to fill the city’s empty lots with affordable and aesthetically fitting housing solutions. In the heart of Detroit’s Islandview area, during this year’s Detroit Month of Design, their vision took shape—a 1,000-square-foot, two-bedroom cottage designed to blend seamlessly with the neighborhood’s architectural vernacular. Stucco panels, a pitched wooden roof, and a welcoming front porch pay homage to the city’s residential heritage. Citizen Robotics, led by the father-daughter duo Evelyn and Tom Woodman, deployed a robot once used in an automotive factory in Chicago to construct the home’s walls. These walls are reinforced with a mass-timber frame, ensuring structural integrity. Remarkably, once these walls pass their load-bearing tests, the frame can be removed, paving the way for future design iterations—a testament to the home’s adaptability.
A Vision for the Future
Citizen Robotics harbors ambitions of disrupting the home building industry with this groundbreaking technology. Yet, unlike other 3D-printed homes featuring unconventional designs, this Detroit gem stays true to the neighborhood’s character. The focus isn’t just on revolutionizing construction but on creating homes that harmonize with their surroundings.
Building this 3D-printed home was a feat of efficiency. The structure was printed within five days at Citizen’s facility in Southwest Detroit and assembled on-site in just a day and a half—a stark contrast to traditional construction timelines. While construction costs were slightly higher, the team’s goal was to match or beat the price per square foot of stick-built homes. They aim to achieve not only upfront cost savings but also enhanced thermal efficiency to keep utility bills affordable.
Set to be priced in line with the neighborhood’s median income of $49,700, the Islandview home represents a pivotal step in addressing Detroit’s housing challenges. It marks the beginning of what Cook and Citizen Robotics hope will be a series of 3D-printed homes across the city. Their vision extends beyond affordable housing—it aims to bring stability, sustainability, and exceptional design to the housing industry.
Empowering the Future. Detroit’s 3D-printed home project also holds the promise of new tech job opportunities and education. By sharing their technology, Cook and Citizen Robotics aim to accelerate home construction and contribute to affordable housing. Their use of off-the-shelf components ensures replicability, making this innovative approach accessible. It’s a project that paves the way for automated robots to build houses, potentially creating tech jobs for Detroit’s diverse community.
This remarkable endeavor not only redefines Detroit’s skyline but also reinvigorates its spirit. As Bryan Cook aptly states, “The 3D nature of this house and the potential of its manufacturing, that’s an inherent part of Detroit.” It’s a testament to the resilience and innovation that define the Motor City.