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Extremely Low-Cost Housing Solutions Gain Currency

Lamar Anderson offers a window into some promising extremely inexpensive housing solutions that engage the user in the design and construction process.
March 17, 2013, 9am PDT | boramici
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Roman Vignoli's Casapanal for the outskirts of Santiago involves just two simple components: a metal skeleton with retrofitted SIP panels that can be assembled without heavy machinery.

Inspired by the $100 house in Paul Polak's 2008 book Out of Poverty, this design and others like it are part of an effort to provide low-cost permanent and customizable shelter to slum dwellers.

Zeroing in on the unique organizational habits of people who construct make-shift shelters for themselves, Cambodian architects Collective Studio have designed six different prototypes for Pnohm Phen families to choose from. They all feature passive cooling and water and mechanical systems and are constructed from locally-sourced materials, keeping costs under $2,500.

Ying Chee Chui's Pinwheel House, adapted to a village in China for under $6,000, uses hollow L-shaped brick modules and steel bars and is expandable from the perimeter through local manpower.

WikiHouse's designers place design files online, making them available for download through Google SketchUp. Communities can "print" the components on shared CNC mills. 

"How these projects will perform is still largely untested," says Anderson, "but providing houses that are not only inexpensive but that residents are proud to call their own will be the greatest measure of their success."

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Published on Wednesday, March 13, 2013 in Architectural Record
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