Designboom_ Liz Lambert, founder of Marfa’s bohemian hotel brand El Cosmico, teams up with ICON and Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) to reimagine the future of luxury camping in the Texas desert. As the leader of advanced construction technologies and pioneers of large-scale 3D printing, ICON has long experimented with innovative forms and building methods — an approach which fits perfectly with the eccentric spirit of the nomadic El Cosmico, whose off-grid, 21-acre campground currently comprises a scattering of tents, yurts, teepees, and trailers.
The newly unveiled project by ICON and BIG proposes the relocation and expansion of the El Cosmico campground to a 62-acre swath of desert, and a collection of radical new dwellings. Made possible with large-scale 3D-printing, each tiny structure will take shape with sculptural elements including domes, arches, vaults, and parabolic forms. In line with El Cosmico’s community-driven philosophy, the guest units will surround shared spaces including a pool, spa, and communal facilities.
Designed by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), a collection of two, three and four bedroom homes will open out toward expansive views of the Davis Mountains, and will have access to El Cosmico’s communal amenities. The dwellings will range from 1,200 to 2,200 square feet. While reservations will open in Summer 2023, the development will break ground in 2024.
‘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 El Cosmico founder Liz 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 that we get to explore their incredible work right here in our own little cosmic landscape under the stars in far West Texas.’
The expansion and re-imagination of El Cosmico is informed by the ‘unique connection between the high desert landscape and cosmic organizations.’ Meanwhile, the architectural language of soft curves and domes are at once ‘primordial’ and forward-thinking — a design vision which is enabled by ICON’s large-scale 3D-printing technology. Providing a ‘natural continuation of unique experiences,’ the project expands on El Cosmico’s legacy of blending art, nature and hospitality in Marfa.
‘The truly unique and divergent architectures made possible by 3D printing are really just beginning,’ said Jason Ballard, co-founder and CEO of ICON. ‘One of the great joys of ICON is putting our technology into the hands of great creatives and seeing what possibilities emerge. The collaboration with Liz and Bjarke is a total dream, and it’s a tremendous honor for us to join them at the forefront of design and architecture. Liz is truly the Queen of Cool and one of the national treasures of Texas. It is incredible to help her cosmic imaginings become earthly reality.’
To celebrate the exciting unveiling of El Cosmico’s expansion, the group has partnered with The Long Center for the Performing Arts, a community gathering place, to bring a taste of El Cosmico to Austin, Texas. The teaser project has brought the first 3D-printed performance pavilion to the city, reflecting the reimagined El Cosmico’s architectural design themes of ‘cosmic organizations, perfect geometries, and organic forms.’ The group note that the design of the pavilion ‘combines and extends some of these themes into a single, sculptural piece that serves as a landmark and a gathering space for culture, community, and the city in the heart of downtown Austin.’ The performance pavilion will open on March 15th, 2023 in time for the city’s South by Southwest (SXSW) festival.