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Innovation & Collaboration

Candelaria Design Associates Works With Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona to Design the State’s First 3D-Printed House

Architect Mark Candelaria founded Candelaria Design Associates more than 20 years ago on the principle that the design process should be a collaborative venture. Since then, he and his team have led custom residential and boutique architectural projects all over the world. Recently, a project close to home allowed them to use their talents to help others and be part of a game-changing innovation in home construction.

As a board member for Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona, Candelaria is well aware of how the lack of affordable housing is at an all-time high in the Phoenix metro area. Because of this, the nonprofit and the City of Tempe are open to finding innovative, scalable, and affordable homeownership solutions. One potential answer to this crisis may be found in the 3D printing of homes—an innovative approach to which Candelaria Design was eager to lend its expertise.

“We designed the 3D home using our CAD software. We had to create completely new code to fit the 3D printer that literally ‘prints’ concrete,” says Candelaria, who worked closely with Candelaria Design architect Damon Wake on the project (Wake was the project manager). “The planning and design happened all over Zoom calls and was a really successful collaborative experience due to the communication and effort of everyone involved.”

The new 3D-printed home project is a single-family home with three bedrooms and two baths, located in Tempe. The livable space is 1,738 square feet, and the total project is 2,433 square feet. Seventy percent of the home is 3D printed, including all internal and external walls. The remainder of the house is a traditional build.

In addition to Candelaria Design and Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona, other participating partners include Habitat for Humanity International, the City of Tempe, PERI, 3D Construction, Cox, Lowe’s, the Ramsey Social Justice Foundation, and more.

“This is really a moonshot opportunity for Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona,” says Jason Barlow, president and CEO of Habitat Central Arizona. “When we consider the housing issues facing Arizona, the need for affordable homeownership solutions becomes clear. If we can deliver decent, affordable, more energy-efficient homes at less cost, in less time, and with less waste, we think that could be a real game-changer. Think of the implications.”

Dusty Parsons​, director of Marketing & Media for Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona, shares that the local branch of the national nonprofit was approached with the unique idea in October 2019. The 3D printer had to be shipped across the globe from PERI in Germany. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the teams involved had to be flexible and creative.

“The lack of affordable housing in the Phoenix metro area is a major issue and 3D printing is a unique way to address the issue,” Parsons explains.

After the design process, construction on the home began in May 2021 and the house was just completed this spring. Parsons adds that Habitat hopes this technology can be widely adopted and scaled to address the acute affordability issue.

Both Candelaria and Parsons note that the family that will move into the newly built home was an integral part of the building process.

“At Habitat, we require families to put in 400 hours of ‘sweat equity’ into the home building process—but they put in so much more,” Parsons says. “They were so gracious and patient through the whole process.”

“We met the family and they were involved in all different aspects of building this home. They value this house and are so appreciative,” Candelaria says. “Teamwork made this all happen.”

In addition to their work with Habitat, Candelaria Design has also worked with the Colten Cowell Foundation, GiGi’s Playhouse Phoenix, Ryan House, Scottsdale Arts, Scottsdale Charros, the Dream Center Network, and many other local nonprofits.

“A big aspect of who we are is giving back to the community,” Candelaria says. “There are endless ways to give back and we encourage everyone with the time or talent to do so.”

CandelariaDesign.com; HabitatCAZ.org

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