WE SHOULDN’T FOOL OURSELVES INTO BELIEVING THAT CHEAPER HOMES ARE IMPOSSIBLE BECAUSE OF HIGHER MATERIAL COSTS
We often go around circles when it comes to discussing affordable housing. These days most market players are onboard when it comes to recognising the need for cheaper housing, but they maintain they need government assistance and incentives to help cover the cost of building and loss of profitable income by focusing on this segment.
The main thrust of this argument over the past two decades has been the rising of building material, making it close to impossible to build homes that are rightly defined as cheap – when compared against the median income of low wage earners.
However, forward-thinking designers from around the world have been challenging this as a false assumption; propagated by those who simply refuse to change the way they look at designing and constructing homes.
While space is an acceptable sacrifice for affordability, comfort shouldn’t be. And, if comfort can be delivered in compact spaces, then shouldn’t this be a viable option to consider?
Here are some examples of how good design can make that possible, with homes than can be built on limited funds.
Jim Vlock Building Project, United States
Briefed with creating a flexible prototype on a low construction budget, graduate students from the Yale School of Architecture built this cedar-clad house for a low-income Connecticut neighbourhood. The dwelling references the local vernacular.
Sorte Hus, Denmark
Danish architect Sigurd Larsen built this small family house in Copenhagen, a feat he claims is near-impossible in the Danish capital. He intends the property, which has a black-painted timber exterior and sloping gabled roof, to become a prototype for low-cost housing.
Mima House, Portugal
This modular house in Portugal can be divided into rooms with a grid of removable partitions, and has large windows that can be transformed into walls with plywood panels if more privacy is required.
IVRV House, US, by SCI-Arc students
Students in a design-build program at the Southern California Institute of Architecture have completed a sustainable house in an impoverished area of Los Angeles, featuring “eco-screens” to keep it cool and large cuts in the facade to bring in daylight.
Mami House, Portugal, by José Carlos Nunes de Oliveira
This cuboid concrete house for a family outside Porto is designed as a mid-cost home that is far below middle-priced barometer in pricey Portugal. To keep the budget down, José Carlos Nunes de Oliveira left the interior concrete walls bare and added as few partitions as possible.
Low Cost House, South Korea, by JYA-rchitects
Extremely low-cost materials including bubble wrap and corrugated steel sheets served as insulation in a series of low-cost houses in South Korea, but were also used to bring in natural light.
Casa Invisibile, Slovenia, by Delugan Meissl
This prototype dwelling can be transported straight from factory to site on a lorry, and is covered in mirrors to help it blend in with the landscape. It features a modular interior that can be configured in different ways to suit the needs of its occupants.
Koda House, UK, by Kodasema
Estonian design collective Kodasema has made its prefab micro home available to purchase in the UK. This design was an attempt the shake up the housing market by making use of empty plots of land.
Happy Cheap House, Sweden, by Tommy Carlsson
Proving that cheap houses don’t have to be generic, Tommy Carlsson clad this prefabricated home in corrugated iron and gave it a sculptural appearance that changes when viewed from different angles.