We report the creation of permanent 3D configurations of cells, at predefined positions, within a gelatin matrix. The technique used holographic optical tweezers to manipulate individual E. coli within a solution comprising monomer precursors. The matrix was then set and after the laser beam was removed, we were able to demonstrate that the structures remained intact for many days. We were also able to demonstrate that, in the presence of appropriate nutrients, the E. coli survived within the gelatin matrix for several days. The technique could have a number of potential future applications, including the arrangement of a variety of different cell types in complex architectures, as motifs for promoting tissue differentiation and growth within the field of cell engineering.