The world faces a staggering housing crisis. Three billion people live in cities, but over one billion live below the poverty line in inferior housing, and an estimated 100 million people are homeless. Fortunately, this year’s Pritzker Prize winner Alejandro Aravena just released four free low-income housing designs as a resource for governments and organizations working to combat these problems.
Aravena’s Elemental architecture “do tank” just launched four open system drawings for incremental housing plans. The plans are a new resource for governments that otherwise might not invest in quality housing.
To build an incremental house, governments pay for half of the cost – often the ground floor and systems like plumbing and electricity – and residents tailor the rest of the building to their needs.
In a press conference at the New York City United Nations headquarters, Aravena said “We [must] use peoples’ own capacity, ideas, and resources to provide a better environment. The scarcest resource in cities today is not money, but coordination. So we need to create open systems that can include people’s own capacity to add value to their living conditions and opportunities.”
Elemental described five design conditions that are part of the incremental housing concept to promote healthier city living. These include stipulations that governments or organizations will fund main components of the homes, such as the walls, bathrooms, and kitchens. While the layout will be urban, no more than 25 families will live on a lot, and there will be structure set in place for final stages of the house. Certain requirements are integrated into the designs – for instance, the bathrooms must be by the bedrooms and not by the front door.
The four designs have already been built, offering concrete examples of the functionality of Aravena’s concept. Quinta Monroy, Villa Verde, and Lo Barnechea were constructed in Chile while Monterrey was erected in Mexico City.
Elemental’s focus is on international projects that improve public housing and rebuild after natural disasters, such as Chile’s 2010 tsunami and earthquake. The Pritzker Foundation said Aravena was chosen because his designs offer “economic opportunity to the less privileged.”