Can tech solve the global housing crisis?
Charities are working hard to develop property solutions to protect against deadly diseases and natural disasters, as well as to provide housing to people in some of the poorest and most remote areas of the world.
Here are some of the key players working to provide affordable and environmentally friendly homes for everyone.
Fighting malaria through architecture
Architect Jakob Knudsen from Danish firm Ingvartsen Architects was inspired by his work with healthcare projects in Tanzania to create homes that greatly reduce the spread of malaria. ‘The Magoda Project’ built eight prototype houses with natural ventilation, inspired by traditional Asian design. Typical Tanzanian houses made from mud or brick are often very hot, and the use of mosquito nets only increases temperature, putting people off using them. But by regulating the temperature and air flow, people were encouraged to use their mosquito nets, and the project saw an 86% reduction in mosquitos indoors overall.
Creating hurricane-resistant housing
Vietnam is affected by harsh tropical weather and many families are living in poor conditions. Local architects Vo Trong Nghia worked with Wind + Water House to devise prefabricated homes using a precast concrete frame that will withstand the elements, while being affordable for people on low budgets. The style of these hurricane-resistant houses is similar to that of traditional Vietnamese design, and they are created to be simple enough to assemble by dwellers and local workers. The build also takes into account Vietnam’s abundance of trees and plants, with natural materials such as nipa palm leaves used to finish the houses.
Turning plastic waste into building materials
Plastic waste is hot on policymakers’ agenda right now, and company ByFusion believes it has a solution to tackling the problem. Their product ByBlocks turns waste plastic, even that which cannot be recycled by conventional standards, into strong building materials. ByBlocks, its creators claim, are stronger than standard bricks, and provide outstanding sound and temperature insulation. The product hasn’t quite made it to market yet but if delivered has the potential to make a huge impact in the world’s slums, where there is an abundance of waste and a lack of affordable and structurally sound housing.
Reaching remote communities with 3D printed homes
Cost is one roadblock to quality housing; another is the difficulty transporting materials and labour to remote locations. Pioneering charity New Story believes it has the solution with its entirely 3D-printed homes. New Story and construction partner ICON wowed audiences at South by Southwest as they demonstrated their technology, which lays down concrete to build a house in its entirety within 24 hours. The charity hopes to use its technology to build homes in remote El Salvador within 18 months.
Tackling population booms
India is on track to be the world’s most populated country by 2024, and the government has pledged ‘Housing For All’ through a major development programme. Now construction companies are faced with the challenge of creating lots of affordable housing, and fast. Precast concrete technology provider Elematic is working with BSBK India in Naya Raipur to build 6,300 homes in three years. Not only do its prefabricated houses offer time and cost savings, but they also have a smaller carbon footprint than cast-in-situ buildings. This is helpful in fighting against India’s serious air pollution problem.