Vietnam-based firm Vo Trong Nghia Architects recently revealed an affordable prefabricated prototype house that could potentially offer Vietnamese people on a very low income somewhere safe and durable to live. While still a work-in-progress and thus subject to change, the S House currently costs just US$4,000 to build.

Vo Trong Nghia Architects has been developing the S House since 2012, and the design has already gone through several iterations. The firm notes that because Vietnamese wages can be very low (the equivalent of under $100 per month in some cases), many people 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 goals of the S House are durability, affordability, and ease of repair.

The S House 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 are used to finish the home. Its modular design allows the S House to be transported in manageable parts by small boats, and it is designed to be easily constructed by local builders.

The interior is basic, measuring just 30 sq m (322 sq ft), and includes one long room as standard. Large polycarbonate panels allow plenty of natural light and can also be opened for access and to encourage ventilation. A small gap between roof and walls also encourages air flow.

Though there are two finished S Houses currently installed in Long An Province, Vo Trong Nghia Architects reports that it is in the process of refining the design further and that it hopes to produce a more durable and lighter version. The eventual aim is for the S House to be mass-produced.

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