Flat-Packed Humanitarianism

Architects have long explored new ways to build and construct low-cost, often prefabricated housing. Many examples exist like Madrid-based architecture firm, Abaton’s cement wood board portable container home and even our own Stop Gap Housing, but some architects have started focusing their energies specifically on sustainable dwellings for populations displaced by natural disaster or warfare. Such efforts include Vietnamese architecture firm H&P’s low-cost, modular, build-it-yourself bamboo housing. Made from locally available and recycled materials, the elevated structure was created to withstand seasonal flooding that is endemic in many parts of Vietnam.

Another interesting concept for refugee housing has come from a partnership between the Ikea Foundation and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR). This summer, they released the Refugee Housing Unit — a lightweight, flat-packed home with solar panelled roofs that can be constructed in four hours.

While the homes currently cost $10,000 per unit, if developed at a higher quantity, the cost can come down to $1,000 per unit. By applying a mass production infrastructure, and an easy-to-ship, flat-pack model, this refugee housing solution might be the first real viable housing solution for the millions living in tented encampments. Designed to be twice as large and last last ten times longer than the UN administered canvas tents, they will provide electricity, heat, privacy, and dignity to many displaced families who can spend up to 10 years living in a refugee camp.

We need more creative ideas to make housing available for everyone. Where else can we look for inspiration to make housing as affordable and accessible as possible?

[Top Image: Emilio Morenatti]

September 21, 2013 | No Comments (yet!)

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