When we saw this beautiful house made almost entirely from wood pallets, "Awesome" was the first word that came to mind. The Paletten Haus was designed by two students from the University of Vienna and won the 2008 GAUDI European Student Competition on Sustainable Architecture. It's made out of reused pallets, and is modular, energy efficient and affordable, making it perfect for low-income housing. It could even offer a housing option for people in developing countries with little access to building materials -- in fact, the designers of the Paletten Haus are in South Africa right now developing a low-cost unit that runs $11/ sq foot.
Back in 2008, Andreas Claus Schnetzer and Gregor Pils, entered their Paletten Haus into the GAUDI competition, which was seeking designs for minimal houses of leisure for the XXI century. Their pallet house design stole the show and has since gone on to be displayed in many locations around Europe, including Grenoble, Venice, Vienna, Linz and Brussels. Since then, they have also won the 2009 Piranesi Student Honorable Mention.
Homes have been made from pallets before, mostly because pallets are really quite useful materials. They are durable, easily reused and recycled, and they come in standard sizes around the world, making it easy to gain access to the materials no matter where you are. Two layers of pallets serve as the home’s walls, ceiling, and as a sunscreen to shade the structure and allow for ventilation. Then structural support, insulation, conduits and plumbing are sandwiched between the two layers of pallets.
Insulation for the house depends on what is available, but could include recycled cellulose, blown spray foam, or even straw. Windows are installed on the sides, and the two ends have glass fronts with a sliding glass door. Even interior rooms are divided with pallet walls. The home is designed to have a low heating and cooling demand, and rainwater is collected from the roof to flush the toilets. To build a 60 sq meter (655 sq ft) house, 800 pallets are used at roughly a cost of €8 per pallet, so an upscale version including materials and labor, cost €80,000 (about $164/sq foot). Remember, that’s the upscale version.
Now, Schnetzer and Pils are in Johannesburg, South Africa working on the first low-cost unit as part of a social building project. They are teaching local people how to construct the home utilizing local materials, including straw, which will be used for insulation. They expect to build an 80 sq meter home for about $10,000 in 10 days, which works out to $11/ sq foot. Affordable, efficient, and easily replicated worldwide, we can’t wait to see what’s next for the Paletten Haus.