T-walls are the much bigger brother to traditional concrete road barriers (Jersey barriers) and have been a common architectural element in Iraq's security landscape. Now that troops are drawing out, hundreds of thousands of these T-walls will be abandoned, crushed or maybe stored for future needs in barricade graveyards. New World Design, a consortium of design professionals who all hold graduate degrees from Harvard University, proposes another use for these indomitable barricades - low-cost, modular housing in Iraq. The T-Wall barricades are strong enough to serve as structural housing for low rise buildings and it could transform a visual symbol of the occupation into something useful for the people of Iraq.
T-walls could easily transition to become the side walls of one story homes, with the wide base buried underneath the ground acting as a foundation. The 12 ft T-Walls (also called Texas Walls) would then create a single story home with around 10 ft high interior ceilings. The exterior would be covered in a uniform cladding or plaster material and hide the fact that the homes are made from concrete barriers. Each T-wall has effective R-value of 14, (analogous to a conventional CMU cavity wall), and would provide thermal mass for the home helping to keep it cool during the day and warmer at night.
New World Design carefully studied traditional Iraqi dwelling patterns to come up with a home design that would fit the needs of the families. Each home is arranged in an L-shape with a kitchen and dining area at the corner placed between public and private rooms. The public sitting room incorporates a double height ceiling, which acts as a wind tower catching natural breezes and facilitating natural ventilation throughout the house.
The L-shaped home is coupled with another to form a private courtyard with its neighbor so children can play and women can freely interact with each other. This setup also has the potential to combine housing units for larger, extended families. New World Design was careful to incorporate traditional Arabic building typologies and desert architecture so that these homes would be readily accepted. Additionally, it would be excellent to see these precast concrete barriers put to good use rather than wasting away in a T-wall graveyard.