Gallery: ABŌD: Affordable Prefab for South Africa from BSB Design


The Abōd™ is a prototype prefab created by BSB Design for use as affordable housing in South Africa. The simple design uses a strong, natural shape as the core. It’s durable, lightweight and can be easily shipped in a compact box for quick on-site assembly. Perhaps it’s the shape or the vibrant colors of the corrugated paneling, but this design brings a cheerful presence to a very serious issue: addressing the need for high-quality, low-cost solutions to South Africa’s housing shortage.

BSB Design applied the engineering of the St. Louis arch to create the lightweight, structurally sound and aesthetically pleasing dwelling. The Abōd components pack flat and come ready for installation along with all the tools needed for assembly. With a screwdriver, awl and a ladder, the home can be constructed in one day with the teamwork of four people. While easy to assemble, these homes can be dismantled (with a security tool only) and moved by the owner.

The Abōd is designed to stand alone as a single unit but can be upgraded with add-on options like kitchens, bathrooms, cooking areas, loft expansions, end walls, window-walls, small-business walls, unique door designs, overhangs, flooring choices and closet units. Double units can be connected in a variety of configurations and the supporting arch size can be increased. Plexiglas panels can be integrated anywhere in the design to increase natural diffused light inside.

BSB Design’s subsidiary Advanced Design Innovation partnered with Barclays Bank, Absa and Africon to establish three model Abōd units in Soshanguve, a primarily rural area about 100 km north of Johannesburg, South Africa. In an area where many families lack substantial housing, the Abōd holds the promise of providing affordable, secure, architect-designed homes.

The components for the three initial homes were made in the US but BSB Design is looking to South African manufacturers to produce parts locally, bringing not only locally-sourced materials into the sustainability picture but also the possibility of new jobs to the region. The projected cost to purchase an Abōd is $1500 and the design is expected to qualify for microfinance loans.

+ My Abōd

+ BSB Design
Via Materialicious


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  1. Raphael D. September 3, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    Heat comments remind me a classic movie : Bridge over the Kwai River! Do you think that adding a coruggated sheet few inches from the actual roof – this air isolation would be sufficient to protect from heat?
    Eventually this “second shell” could even be larger to provide shade around the Abod. Please comment .

  2. Thierry November 18, 2008 at 11:01 am

    Those Abōd homes look really cute. It’s exactly the same shape inside as the ice hotel in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, but a bit smaller and hotter !

  3. UlrikeDG August 25, 2008 at 6:01 pm

    They’ve currently got a deal going on for the State Fair. Buy one here, they send one to Africa for free. Check out their website for details.

  4. joebob March 22, 2008 at 2:15 am

    Heck, even in the southern US, this design would be so hot as to be unbearable.
    How about a polycarbonate panel instead of corrugated metal?

  5. badhuman March 21, 2008 at 9:26 am

    Visually it looks nice but I agree with others that it is probably not pratical in price or design for Southern Africa. Are they using local materials to build these?

  6. Richie March 15, 2008 at 8:52 pm

    GREAT DESIGN to repurpose ! Excellent comments from Jason, Nat and Deon. However, the brilliance of this design is not in it’s implementation as it is presented to us now. Its genius is how this design can be repurposed out of cheaper materials ! If it is made out of bent rebar arches(with welded rebar horizontal elements running it’s length), bendable foam board (wire tied to the curve of the rebar), and chicken wire coated with cement inside and out. This method will produce a monolithically strong shell for hardly any cost. THIS is how this design will be implemented extremely cost effectively. Go team !

  7. david reno March 15, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    like nat said, looks hot. I live in brazil, and this metal on the sun will turn the inside a oven.

  8. deon rossouw March 15, 2008 at 3:44 am

    The temerature inside that structure is going to be un-livable in the temperatures of Southern Africa – I reckon that with the ambient temp. in Cape Town reaching 40 centigrade – inside the “sauna” effect will result in temps approaching high 50 degrees – Nice Idea but the cladding needs to be a fibre-board, not steel sheeting.
    As far as price goes – at $1500 its STILL unaffordable! – the people this is aimed at will still not be able to buy at the local price if around R12000.00 – bearing in mind that even when employed, basic wages are in the order of only R600 per week – Not going to work, FACT!

  9. oakling March 14, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    They might work well in conjunction with systematic programs that address the causes of all that poverty. And at least it can build up the country’s infrastructure….

  10. Bob March 14, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    Quonset hut’s comeback!

  11. nat March 14, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    i wonder how hot the siding gets on the inside and outside, since it looks like metal.

  12. urbanmike March 14, 2008 at 11:46 am

    Oh, I’d love one of these in the backyard as a work retreat/escape!

  13. Jason March 14, 2008 at 11:25 am

    I could be way off as to the logic of this project, but the rural poor of South Africa can’t even afford bicycles to get to work or school. $1500 is completely unaffordable for the people in the villages I have visited and subsidized ‘band-aid’ approaches tend to be unsustainable. To be successful you really need to optimize the material use or the structure will be taken down and its materials reused elsewhere. Of course a good building might overcome this end. I thought what they needed was a method or pattern to follow to exploit their available means. Maybe these structures do begin to offer this implicitly even though their main goal might be to sell more of themselves. The homes I saw were made of scraps of corrugated sheet steel and (mostly repurpopsed) beams and pipes of all kinds so maybe that’s a good place to start. These little structures look really cool though and might work in places I haven’t been… This situation, however, leaves me wondering where designers might appropriately and effectively fit in.

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