Marfa’s El Cosmico campground hotel is getting a 3D-printed revamp

El Cosmico in Marfa, Texas, is being reimagined by BIG, 3D-printing specialist Icon and hotelier Liz Lambert

performance pavilion in austin by BIG inspired by El Cosmico and 3D printing
Celebrating the plans for El Cosmico is BIG, Icon and Liz Lambert's 3D-printed performance pavilion in Austin at The Long Center for the Performing Arts
(Image credit: BIG)

El Cosmico campground hotel in Marfa, Texas, is getting a revamp, courtesy of the maverick Texan hotelier Liz Lambert, the force behind beloved properties such as Austin’s Hotel San José and Hotel St Cecilia, and San Antonio’s Hotel Havana. The transformation of the 21-acre El Cosmico, where guests currently sleep in either trailers, tents or teepees in the middle of town, is a dream project for Lambert. The hospitality veteran is planning to rebuild and reimagine the site in partnership with Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), and Icon, the leader in advanced construction techniques using large-scale 3D printing. Set to be relocated and expanded to encompass 62 acres, El Cosmico will feature domed, arched, vaulted and parabolic forms, all made possible through 3D printing. 

render of BIG concept for el cosmico

El Cosmico will soon feature new structures created with 3D-printing techniques

(Image credit: BIG)

El Cosmico reborn

With the project set to break ground in 2024, the exciting new structures will not only serve as guest rooms at El Cosmico, but will also house a pool, a spa and other communal facilities. The design was inspired by the dialogue between the high desert landscape and cosmic entities. Featuring organic curves and domes that nod to a rather otherworldly, primordial architectural language, El Cosmico’s new phase reiterates its position at the crossroads of culture, design, hospitality and nature.

‘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 Ingels. ‘Organic shapes, Euclidian circular geometries and a colour palette born from the local terroir make El Cosmico feel as if literally erected from the site it stands on.’ 

render of pool by BIG at el cosmico

Plans include a pool, a spa and other communal facilities

(Image credit: BIG)

‘The exhilarating feat was to explore pushing the limits of Icon's 3D-printing technology while crafting unique opportunities for unforgettable guest experiences for El Cosmico,’ he adds of the two-, three- and four-bedroom accommodation that the firm has designed. ‘El Cosmico prides itself on its unpretentious, resourceful, and quirky nature, and as such, another challenge was to evolve and expand its legacy while maintaining its fundamental principles and cultural identity. It was a great challenge to reintroduce these experiences and seamlessly integrate them with the new accommodations – from open-air showers and bathtubs to outdoor kitchens and fire pits, under the expansive desert sky.’

To celebrate the joint venture, BIG, Icon and Lambert have together unveiled a 3D-printed performance pavilion in Austin at The Long Center for the Performing Arts that reflects the architectural themes on which the new guest rooms will be based. The first of its kind, the permanent pavilion will serve as a gathering space for culture and community in downtown Austin.

pavilion in austin by BIg, render

The 3D-printed performance pavilion in Austin, which reflects the architectural themes of the new El Cosmico guest rooms

(Image credit: BIG)

‘As an outpost of El Cosmico in Austin, [we] have partnered to create a permanent pavilion for music and performances,’ Ingles says. ‘A single crescent wall emerges from the natural slope of the Long Centre’s front lawn. The adobe-like colour and texture of the horizontally layered wall appears 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. Organic form as structural function.’ 

Pei-Ru Keh is a former US Editor at Wallpaper*. Born and raised in Singapore, she has been a New Yorker since 2013. Pei-Ru held various titles at Wallpaper* between 2007 and 2023. She reports on design, tech, art, architecture, fashion, beauty and lifestyle happenings in the United States, both in print and digitally. Pei-Ru took a key role in championing diversity and representation within Wallpaper's content pillars, actively seeking out stories that reflect a wide range of perspectives. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children, and is currently learning how to drive.