James&Mau’s Casa El Tiemblo is an energy-efficient home made of four stacked shipping containers.
Urgent Architecture is an organized, straightforward, no-nonsense collection of prefabricated, adaptable, affordable and disaster/emergency housing. Ms. Meinhold doesn’t wax poetic or use any of the academic industry jargon that you might see in other architecture books. Like its name implies, the book gets right at the heart of the matter – how climate change, wars, dwindling resources, poverty and natural disasters are affecting our world and what we need to do to adapt architecture accordingly in order to survive. In fact, the introduction, which is a mere 7 pages, succinctly outlines the reasons that we need better housing and serves as a crash course for anyone who might not yet be familiar with all of the issues above.
“My goal is not to explain the serious threats we will face in the future due to climate change, increasing natural disasters, and our rapidly rising population,” Meinhold explains. “Instead, I want to show that one of the ways we can protect ourselves and save lives is by building better housing. We have the technology and know-how to build stronger, more durable, energy-efficient, sustainable, and disaster-proof housing; we just need to prepare and be smarter with our planning and construction. The shelters and homes in this book serve as examples of what is possible, what is on the market, and what technologies and designs will be able to help us in the future.”
WheelLY is a portable shelter that serves as a mobile home for the homeless.
The book is organized into five easy-to-digest sections – Rapid Shelters, Transitional Shelters, Affordable Housing, Prefab Housing and Adaptable Housing – each with a variety of examples (some built and some just prototypes). Every project features photos, illustrations and line drawings (there are over 200 in the book in total) as well as useful information like cost, architects, materials suppliers and other resources. Meinhold’s explanations are easy to follow, even for someone who is not well-versed in architectural design. Urgent Architecture is accessible to anyone wanting to learn about sustainable housing design, but also informative enough that we can imagine it being used in a classroom setting as well.
Whether you’re an architect hoping to increase your knowledge, a student of sustainable design, or a builder looking for ideas, we think Urgent Architecture is a valuable resource that you’ll keep referring back to time and time again.