Here’s a concept Prince Charles may want to look into for his new eco slum community – Blocks House, a modular and prefabricated housing system designed especially for impoverished areas. With over 1 billion people living in slums around the world, modular and inexpensive housing materials are one appealing way to help provide more adequate homes than the often decrepit existing structures. Indian designer Altamash Jiwani came up with the prefab housing concept as a way to help combat the housing inequity in slums.
The concept is very simple and relies on prefabricated plastic panels that are assembled into houses by connecting them together with bolts. The panels are made out of recycled polyethylene and polypropylene and are lightweight, durable and inexpensive. Single story houses can be put together to build whatever size house is necessary for a family and found materials like straw and cardboard can be added for insulation.
Advantages of the system include recyclablity of the materials at the end of their life and modularity, which adds the capability of adding more rooms. Another benefit of the system is that the home can be disassembled and transported if necessary. On the downside though, the materials would not work well in either hot or cold environments as there is no insulation included. Additionally, the panels have little structural stability and during a natural disaster, the system would unlikely be structurally sound enough to remain standing.
The concept is worth consideration though. Even as Prince Charles has commented, slums have a way of self-organizing, and by providing more adequate and durable materials, the poor might be able to improve their housing situation. Altamash Jiwani’s Blocks House concept is currently a nominee for the INDEX Award 2011.