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Affordable and still Green: Sandbag Houses by MMA Architects
On Fridays, we feature homes that we feel are environmentally responsible, but as one might suspect, architecture can also be good for the soul. MMA Architects recently completed a home built out of timber and sandbags – and became the winner of the Curry Stone Foundation Prize this year. The prize is awarded to individuals or groups that create architecture that has the potential to make positive changes in a community by offering shelter, community health, peace, or clean water, air and food. This sandbag house was built for a mere $6,000, making it affordable for low-income housing. The design also utilizes uncomplicated techniques- and was constructed with the help of its future residents who were able to gain a sense of ownership through the building process.
While these homes are not necessarily decked out with solar panels and energy-efficient insulation, the design and construction of the home takes advantage of techniques that conserve money and resources. First, the home uses inexpensive local materials which cuts down on transportation. Second, the home utilizes EcoBeams, a system of building that replaces brick-and-mortar with sandbags. The system is reported to be just as strong as a brick system and uses less timber than traditional construction.
The home is the first in a community of 10 other homes to be built in Freedom Park, near Cape Town in South Africa. The homes are the result of the 10 x 10 Housing Project, a project challenging 10 architecture teams to develop plans for low-cost housing.
Luyunda Mpahlwa has said that he plans on using the prize money- $100,000- to build more of these homes, and to send underprivileged students to architecture school.
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