Architecture

Gallery: Clever concepts for low-cost housing

Gallery: Clever concepts for l...
The OPod Tube House was designed with a view to mitigating Hong Kong's housing shortages, which have given rise to the area's infamous "coffin cubicles"
The OPod Tube House was designed with a view to mitigating Hong Kong's housing shortages, which have given rise to the area's infamous "coffin cubicles"
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The OPod Tube House was designed with a view to mitigating Hong Kong's housing shortages, which have given rise to the area's infamous "coffin cubicles"
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The OPod Tube House was designed with a view to mitigating Hong Kong's housing shortages, which have given rise to the area's infamous "coffin cubicles"
The OPod Tube House was designed with a view to mitigating Hong Kong's housing shortages, which have given rise to the area's infamous "coffin cubicles"
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The OPod Tube House was designed with a view to mitigating Hong Kong's housing shortages, which have given rise to the area's infamous "coffin cubicles"
The OPod Tube House, by James Law Cybertecture, is a micro house made from concrete water piping that measures just 2.5 m (8.2 ft) in diameter
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The OPod Tube House, by James Law Cybertecture, is a micro house made from concrete water piping that measures just 2.5 m (8.2 ft) in diameter
The snug interior of the OPod Tube House features an apartment-style layout suitable for one or two people
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The snug interior of the OPod Tube House features an apartment-style layout suitable for one or two people
The snug interior of the OPod Tube House features an apartment-style layout suitable for one or two people
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The snug interior of the OPod Tube House features an apartment-style layout suitable for one or two people
Richardson's Yard opened in December 2013, and is a shipping container-based housing development in Brighton, UK for people at risk of homelessness
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Richardson's Yard opened in December 2013, and is a shipping container-based housing development in Brighton, UK for people at risk of homelessness
Inside one of the shipping container homes at Richardson's Yard housing development in Brighton, UK, for people at risk of homelessness
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Inside one of the shipping container homes at Richardson's Yard housing development in Brighton, UK, for people at risk of homelessness
Inside one of the shipping container homes at Richardson's Yard housing development in Brighton, UK, for people at risk of homelessness
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Inside one of the shipping container homes at Richardson's Yard housing development in Brighton, UK, for people at risk of homelessness
Richardson's Yard opened in December 2013, and is a shipping container-based housing development in Brighton, UK for people at risk of homelessness
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Richardson's Yard opened in December 2013, and is a shipping container-based housing development in Brighton, UK for people at risk of homelessness
For many people, the prospects of owning a house are very dim. However, the 20K House project by Rural Studio, an off-campus design-build program of Auburn University, aims to tackle this by crafting affordable and attractive homes for less than US$20,000
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For many people, the prospects of owning a house are very dim. However, the 20K House project by Rural Studio, an off-campus design-build program of Auburn University, aims to tackle this by crafting affordable and attractive homes for less than US$20,000
The 20K House project was launched in 2005 by Rural Studio in an effort to address the need for local affordable housing while offering an alternative to mobile homes. The price tag of US$20,000 derives from what was felt to be the highest mortgage a person receiving Social Security checks could realistically afford to pay
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The 20K House project was launched in 2005 by Rural Studio in an effort to address the need for local affordable housing while offering an alternative to mobile homes. The price tag of US$20,000 derives from what was felt to be the highest mortgage a person receiving Social Security checks could realistically afford to pay
For many people, the prospects of owning a house are very dim. However, the 20K House project by Rural Studio, an off-campus design-build program of Auburn University, aims to tackle this by crafting affordable and attractive homes for less than US$20,000
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For many people, the prospects of owning a house are very dim. However, the 20K House project by Rural Studio, an off-campus design-build program of Auburn University, aims to tackle this by crafting affordable and attractive homes for less than US$20,000
Rural Studio has designed 12 different versions for the 20K House project, each of which cost roughly $12,000 for materials, with $8,000 of the budget set aside for contracted labor and profit margins
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Rural Studio has designed 12 different versions for the 20K House project, each of which cost roughly $12,000 for materials, with $8,000 of the budget set aside for contracted labor and profit margins
For many people, the prospects of owning a house are very dim. However, the 20K House project by Rural Studio, an off-campus design-build program of Auburn University, aims to tackle this by crafting affordable and attractive homes for less than US$20,000
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For many people, the prospects of owning a house are very dim. However, the 20K House project by Rural Studio, an off-campus design-build program of Auburn University, aims to tackle this by crafting affordable and attractive homes for less than US$20,000
The 20K House project was launched in 2005 by Rural Studio in an effort to address the need for local affordable housing while offering an alternative to mobile homes. The price tag of $20,000 derives from what was felt to be the highest mortgage a person receiving Social Security checks could realistically afford to pay
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The 20K House project was launched in 2005 by Rural Studio in an effort to address the need for local affordable housing while offering an alternative to mobile homes. The price tag of $20,000 derives from what was felt to be the highest mortgage a person receiving Social Security checks could realistically afford to pay
The two-story Framework House measures a total of 80 sq m (861 sq ft) and costs just US$2,500 to build
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The two-story Framework House measures a total of 80 sq m (861 sq ft) and costs just US$2,500 to build
Building Trust International, Atelier COLE, and Habitat for Humanity Cambodia collaborated on a project to create affordable housing for low-income Cambodians. The result, dubbed Framework House, is a sustainable home that was built primarily from bamboo and wood, and cost just US$2,500 to build
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Building Trust International, Atelier COLE, and Habitat for Humanity Cambodia collaborated on a project to create affordable housing for low-income Cambodians. The result, dubbed Framework House, is a sustainable home that was built primarily from bamboo and wood, and cost just US$2,500 to build
The US$2,500 Framework House by Building Trust international, Atelier COLE, and Habitat for Humanity Cambodia
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The US$2,500 Framework House by Building Trust international, Atelier COLE, and Habitat for Humanity Cambodia
Building Trust International, Atelier COLE, and Habitat for Humanity Cambodia collaborated on a project to create affordable housing for low-income Cambodians. The result, dubbed Framework House, is a sustainable home that was built primarily from bamboo and wood, and cost just US$2,500 to build
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Building Trust International, Atelier COLE, and Habitat for Humanity Cambodia collaborated on a project to create affordable housing for low-income Cambodians. The result, dubbed Framework House, is a sustainable home that was built primarily from bamboo and wood, and cost just US$2,500 to build
The aptly-named Temporary Shelter in Nepal project came about in the wake of the earthquake that devastated the country in 2015. It uses a simple bamboo-based framework that can serve as the basis for a temporary shelter and is easily replicated by unskilled locals
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The aptly-named Temporary Shelter in Nepal project came about in the wake of the earthquake that devastated the country in 2015. It uses a simple bamboo-based framework that can serve as the basis for a temporary shelter and is easily replicated by unskilled locals
Designed for those impacted by the 2015 earthquake, the prototype of the Temporary Shelter in Nepal project cost around US$500 and took two days to build using timber and metal sheets salvaged from damaged houses
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Designed for those impacted by the 2015 earthquake, the prototype of the Temporary Shelter in Nepal project cost around US$500 and took two days to build using timber and metal sheets salvaged from damaged houses
The aptly-named Temporary Shelter in Nepal project came about in the wake of the earthquake that devastated the country in 2015. It uses a simple bamboo-based framework that can serve as the basis for a temporary shelter and is easily replicated by unskilled locals
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The aptly-named Temporary Shelter in Nepal project came about in the wake of the earthquake that devastated the country in 2015. It uses a simple bamboo-based framework that can serve as the basis for a temporary shelter and is easily replicated by unskilled locals
Designed for those impacted by the 2015 earthquake, the prototype of the Temporary Shelter in Nepal project cost around US$500 and took two days to build using timber and metal sheets salvaged from damaged houses
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Designed for those impacted by the 2015 earthquake, the prototype of the Temporary Shelter in Nepal project cost around US$500 and took two days to build using timber and metal sheets salvaged from damaged houses
The aptly-named Temporary Shelter in Nepal under construction. The prototype cost just US$500 to build
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The aptly-named Temporary Shelter in Nepal under construction. The prototype cost just US$500 to build
The budget-friendly Low Cost House in South Korea features three shipping containers placed within a surrounding structure in order to provide a safe and attractive home for a family of seven
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The budget-friendly Low Cost House in South Korea features three shipping containers placed within a surrounding structure in order to provide a safe and attractive home for a family of seven
Based in a small rural village in South Korea, the Low Cost House is the second in a series of inexpensive homes from JYA-RCHITECTS that looks to improve the living conditions of low-income families
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Based in a small rural village in South Korea, the Low Cost House is the second in a series of inexpensive homes from JYA-RCHITECTS that looks to improve the living conditions of low-income families
The budget-friendly Low Cost House in South Korea features three shipping containers placed within a surrounding structure in order to provide a safe and attractive home for a family of seven
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The budget-friendly Low Cost House in South Korea features three shipping containers placed within a surrounding structure in order to provide a safe and attractive home for a family of seven
Inside the Low Cost House in South Korea, which is made from three shipping containers placed within a surrounding structure in order to provide a safe and attractive home for a family of seven
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Inside the Low Cost House in South Korea, which is made from three shipping containers placed within a surrounding structure in order to provide a safe and attractive home for a family of seven
The interior of the S House by Vo Trong Nghia Architects is basic, measuring just 30 sq m (322 sq ft), and includes one long room as standard. Large polycarbonate panels allow in plenty of natural light and can also be opened for access and to encourage ventilation
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The interior of the S House by Vo Trong Nghia Architects is basic, measuring just 30 sq m (322 sq ft), and includes one long room as standard. Large polycarbonate panels allow in plenty of natural light and can also be opened for access and to encourage ventilation
The prefabricated S House by Vo Trong Nghia Architects was designed to retail for just US$4,000
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The prefabricated S House by Vo Trong Nghia Architects was designed to retail for just US$4,000
Vietnamese wages can be very low (the equivalent of under US$100 per month in some cases), so many locals are required to live in temporary shacks that simply don't stand the test of time and are expensive to maintain and repair. Therefore, the main goal of the S House by Vo Trong Nghia Architects is to offer durability, affordability, and ease of repair. It was designed to retail for less than $4,000
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Vietnamese wages can be very low (the equivalent of under US$100 per month in some cases), so many locals are required to live in temporary shacks that simply don't stand the test of time and are expensive to maintain and repair. Therefore, the main goal of the S House by Vo Trong Nghia Architects is to offer durability, affordability, and ease of repair. It was designed to retail for less than $4,000
The prefabricated S House by Vo Trong Nghia Architects was designed to retail for just US$4,000
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The prefabricated S House by Vo Trong Nghia Architects was designed to retail for just US$4,000
The S House by Vo Trong Nghia Architects comprises a pre-cast concrete frame and foundation that's bolted together with steel fixings, plus a cement roof. It also features steel doors and window frames, and easily-obtained local materials such as Nipa Palm leaf thatching and bamboo that are used to finish the home
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The S House by Vo Trong Nghia Architects comprises a pre-cast concrete frame and foundation that's bolted together with steel fixings, plus a cement roof. It also features steel doors and window frames, and easily-obtained local materials such as Nipa Palm leaf thatching and bamboo that are used to finish the home
The S House by Vo Trong Nghia Architects comprises a pre-cast concrete frame and foundation that's bolted together with steel fixings, plus a cement roof. It also features steel doors and window frames, and easily-obtained local materials such as Nipa Palm leaf thatching and bamboo that are used to finish the home
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The S House by Vo Trong Nghia Architects comprises a pre-cast concrete frame and foundation that's bolted together with steel fixings, plus a cement roof. It also features steel doors and window frames, and easily-obtained local materials such as Nipa Palm leaf thatching and bamboo that are used to finish the home
The main goal of the S House by Vo Trong Nghia Architects is to offer durability, affordability, and ease of repair. It was designed to retail for less than $4,000
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The main goal of the S House by Vo Trong Nghia Architects is to offer durability, affordability, and ease of repair. It was designed to retail for less than $4,000
The S House by Vo Trong Nghia Architects comprises a pre-cast concrete frame and foundation that's bolted together with steel fixings, plus a cement roof. It also features steel doors and window frames, and easily-obtained local materials such as Nipa Palm leaf thatching and bamboo that are used to finish the home
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The S House by Vo Trong Nghia Architects comprises a pre-cast concrete frame and foundation that's bolted together with steel fixings, plus a cement roof. It also features steel doors and window frames, and easily-obtained local materials such as Nipa Palm leaf thatching and bamboo that are used to finish the home
The prefabricated S House by Vo Trong Nghia Architects was designed to retail for just US$4,000
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The prefabricated S House by Vo Trong Nghia Architects was designed to retail for just US$4,000
The main goal of the S House by Vo Trong Nghia Architects is to offer durability, affordability, and ease of repair. It was designed to retail for less than $4,000
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The main goal of the S House by Vo Trong Nghia Architects is to offer durability, affordability, and ease of repair. It was designed to retail for less than $4,000
The pallets making up this low-cost home by Mexican Architect Tatiana Bilbao allow relatively easy expansion and alteration, and they're also used instead of windows to offer natural light and ventilation in suitable areas of the home
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The pallets making up this low-cost home by Mexican Architect Tatiana Bilbao allow relatively easy expansion and alteration, and they're also used instead of windows to offer natural light and ventilation in suitable areas of the home
This low-cost home by Mexican architect Tatiana Bilbao costs just US$8,000 to build, and comprises a central core built from concrete blocks, with surrounding modules constructed from wooden pallets
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This low-cost home by Mexican architect Tatiana Bilbao costs just US$8,000 to build, and comprises a central core built from concrete blocks, with surrounding modules constructed from wooden pallets
This low-cost home by Mexican architect Tatiana Bilbao costs just US$8,000 to build, and comprises a central core built from concrete blocks, with surrounding modules constructed from wooden pallets
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This low-cost home by Mexican architect Tatiana Bilbao costs just US$8,000 to build, and comprises a central core built from concrete blocks, with surrounding modules constructed from wooden pallets
The pallets making up this low-cost home by Mexican Architect Tatiana Bilbao allow relatively easy expansion and alteration, and they're also used instead of windows to offer natural light and ventilation in suitable areas of the home
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The pallets making up this low-cost home by Mexican Architect Tatiana Bilbao allow relatively easy expansion and alteration, and they're also used instead of windows to offer natural light and ventilation in suitable areas of the home
This low-cost home by Mexican architect Tatiana Bilbao costs just US$8,000 to build, and comprises a central core built from concrete blocks, with surrounding modules constructed from wooden pallets
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This low-cost home by Mexican architect Tatiana Bilbao costs just US$8,000 to build, and comprises a central core built from concrete blocks, with surrounding modules constructed from wooden pallets
Inside the Just A Minute house designed for earthquake-stricken Nepal
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Inside the Just A Minute house designed for earthquake-stricken Nepal
Following the severe earthquake that struck Nepal in 2015, Italian firm Barberio Colella ARC designed a disaster shelter dubbed Just a Minute for displaced Nepalese people. The shelter features some interesting ideas, including a concertina-like expandable structure that facilitates transportation
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Following the severe earthquake that struck Nepal in 2015, Italian firm Barberio Colella ARC designed a disaster shelter dubbed Just a Minute for displaced Nepalese people. The shelter features some interesting ideas, including a concertina-like expandable structure that facilitates transportation
Dreamt up by researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles as a solution to LA's housing crisis, the Backyard BI(h)OME is affordable, low impact and recyclable. What's more, it can be easily put together in people's back gardens thanks to its simple construction using fabric sheeting embedded with solar panels wrapped around a framework of electrical conduit pipes
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Dreamt up by researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles as a solution to LA's housing crisis, the Backyard BI(h)OME is affordable, low impact and recyclable. What's more, it can be easily put together in people's back gardens thanks to its simple construction using fabric sheeting embedded with solar panels wrapped around a framework of electrical conduit pipes
The Backyard BI(h)OME is lit up by LED lights
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The Backyard BI(h)OME is lit up by LED lights
A prototype of the Backyard BI(h)OME, an affordable, low impact and recyclable dwelling that can be easily put together in people's back gardens thanks to its simple construction using fabric sheeting embedded with solar panels wrapped around a framework of electrical conduit pipes
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A prototype of the Backyard BI(h)OME, an affordable, low impact and recyclable dwelling that can be easily put together in people's back gardens thanks to its simple construction using fabric sheeting embedded with solar panels wrapped around a framework of electrical conduit pipes
Designed for earthquake-stricken Nepal, the Just A Minute shelter would measure only 2.5 x 4 m (8.2 x 13 ft) while being transported, but once safely in place, a pivoting bamboo framework would allow volunteers to pull out its side sections to expand it, concertina-like, to 4 x 11.7 m (13 x 38 ft). Barberio Colella ARC says that in this guise, it could shelter up to 10 people.
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Designed for earthquake-stricken Nepal, the Just A Minute shelter would measure only 2.5 x 4 m (8.2 x 13 ft) while being transported, but once safely in place, a pivoting bamboo framework would allow volunteers to pull out its side sections to expand it, concertina-like, to 4 x 11.7 m (13 x 38 ft). Barberio Colella ARC says that in this guise, it could shelter up to 10 people.

They say constraint breeds creativity, and anybody looking to get into home ownership will be extremely familiar with the constraints that go with it. Architectural, construction and design innovations therefore have a huge role to play in getting roofs over heads, particularly when it comes to the world's poorest and most vulnerable. Here we take a look at some clever solutions to low-cost housing, including a few whose appearance far outstrips their price tag.

International statistics on homelessness are hard to pin down, because the very definition of the term varies between countries and much of it is hidden from view. But as a guide, the UN in 2005 undertook a global survey and estimated there to be some 1.6 billion people in inadequate housing and 100 million completely homeless people around the world.

Architectural trends like shipping container homes, modular structures and prefabricated dwellings have driven down the costs of house construction. Not to the point where homelessness will be eradicated entirely, but they have made home ownership a new and real possibility for a great deal of people.

The US$2,500 Framework House by Building Trust international, Atelier COLE, and Habitat for Humanity Cambodia
The US$2,500 Framework House by Building Trust international, Atelier COLE, and Habitat for Humanity Cambodia

Some of the concepts showcased here won't make it beyond the drawing board, but all incorporate interesting ideas that place an emphasis on efficiency of construction and cost effectiveness. They also demonstrate how such priorities don't always have to come at the expense of aesthetics.

Jump on into the gallery here.

9 comments
Deres
The Tube House concept seems a very bad idea for me : - heavy (in concrete it has to be done in 2 parts) - there is a risk of Rolling on the side which needs lateral heavy support items - the weight is transmitted by small zone to the other pods Under it, that have to be very resistant - you cannot use standard cheap furnitures as the interior is round (and this is very annoying to put a bed Inside it, especially a double one ...)
Mzungu_Mkubwa
@Deres, I agree and am surprised that they did not make these hexagonal (like a bee hive) which would alone solve most of your noted objections and have absolutely no difference in cost or mfg issues. Curious.
Helios
What a lovely concept rendering... we can still have homeless people living under a bridge, but now they can sleep in a tidy looking concrete bunker!
ivan4
A lot of this type of construction is not really for the homeless - it all requires a reasonable amount of money to live in such houses. The concrete tube is an excellent idea for truly homeless people but not as shown, it is too 'posh' and has far too many things. Most homeless people do not have money, or very little, and they generally live on the streets. What they need is somewhere that is dry and protected to sleep, a 1.5 metre diameter concrete tube is ideal for that, a wooden slatted 'floor' allows for easy cleaning (just hose it out). Couple a bank of such tubes with a couple of containers that have toilets and showers and an office with secure storage and you end up with a homeless hotel that costs almost nothing to run but supplies the homeless with a place to sleep that is secure.
BonPro
I cannot help but mention the irony of an email update containing both an article on toilet-free, cylindrical "homes" and an article on camper vans with private toilets. Make what you like of it.
Deres
@MzunguMkubwa|. The hexagonal tube would indeed be a better solution. It would also permit to maybe construct the stairs at the same time and partially solve the lateral size issue. Nevertheless, I think the idea is to use an existing technology that is already used to make round concrete tube for sewers.
MerlinGuy
Funny that they post pictures of the 20K House project by Rural Studio that has two or three times the space of a Tiny House which costs around 5 times more. Which is it? Can we build small, affordable housing or not?
ljaques
It seems like most of these are simply virtue signals from architects, etc. rather than serious attempts to help anyone. I'll bet half the designs came from slumlords trying to figure out how to get more income for less outgo. Others are silly stunts from unknowledgeable school children (sorry, UCLA, but that's not even housing). What looks more usable are SIPs. Make thinner 2x4 SIP panels and create inexpensive, quickly built tiny houses, without all the $4k kitchens, A/C, etc. Solar panels on one in a group could supply LED light at night for reading, homework, learning for a new job, etc. Portapotties, communal showers/kitchens/cleaning area. I just read that homeless in L.A. has increased 46% since =2013=. How's sanctuary working for you, CA?
grainis
This concept is based on the idea for using mass-produced cheap concrete tubes for water pipelines. The mass-product's low price is the leading idea here. That's why hexagonal or octagonal tubes will not be acceptable - their production will be more difficult and times more expensive. These concrete tubes will need a serious thermal insulation, which I cannot see on the pictures, and which will change all the structural concept. Lack of WC is a crucial drawback and perhaps the psychological aspects of continuous living in a cylindrical cave must be considered. https://passive-house.alle.bg