Texas campground hotel to evolve into 3D-printed resort

Texas-based hotelier, Liz Lambert, is partnering with ICON, an advanced construction tech and 3D printing firm, and architecture firm, Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), to reimagine and rebuild El Cosmico, a 8.4-ha (21-acre) campground hotel in Marfa, Texas.

The relocation and expansion of El Cosmico to more than 24.2 ha (60 acres) will showcase entirely new architectural approaches, made possible by large-scale 3D-printing including domes, arches, vaults, and parabolic forms. The innovative development will feature guest units and new hospitality programming, such as a pool, spa, and shared communal facilities. Breaking ground in 2024, El Cosmico will continue to celebrate the convergence of creative culture and the minimalistic environment of Marfa’s desert landscape.

El cosmico’s exceptional fusion of the cosmic sky and high desert terrain is celebrated by a single 3D-printed wall which spirals around the raised bed platform, providing a framed view to the sky.

The design for the expansion and re-imagination of the El Cosmico hotel and housing is informed by this exact connection between the high desert landscape and cosmic organizations. The new hotel and homes feature organic curves and domes, a primordial architectural language that can only be achieved by 3D-printing. ICON’s technology excels at creating soft shapes and curved surfaces, making it possible to bring this design vision to life. While one side of the house remains solid, the opposite side opens to unveil the vibrant life of the west Texas back porch. The collection of the BIG-designed two-, three-, and four-bedroom homes feature expansive views of the Davis Mountains and range from 111-m2 (1,200-sf) to 204-m2 (2,200-sf).

The project provides a natural continuation of unique experiences, building on El Cosmico’s legacy of intersecting art, nature, and hospitality in Marfa. Another facet of the project will be possible opportunities to 3D-print affordable housing in Marfa.

The new hotel will provide a much-needed respite, with the pool serving as the heart for activities such as the bathhouse and restaurant. To celebrate the start of the project, the teams have partnered with The Long Center for the Performing Arts to bring a taste of El Cosmico to Austin, Texas in the form of the first 3D-printed performance pavilion that parallels and reflects architectural design themes—cosmic organizations, perfect geometries, and organic forms—planned for the new hotel. The design combines and extends some of these themes into a single, sculptural piece—serving as a landmark and a gathering space in downtown Austin.

“I have had a vision for the evolution of El Cosmico for many years that includes several spaces that add to the experience both for guests and locals—a pool, a hammam, and more space for art and skills-building workshops,” says Lambert. “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. 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 we get to explore their incredible work right here in our own little cosmic landscape under the stars in far West Texas.”

“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,” says Bjarke Ingels, founder and creative director at BIG. “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 makes El Cosmico feel as if literally erected from the site it stands on.”

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