De­cent and Af­ford­able Hous­ing for the Poor

Southern Innovator - - CITIES & URBANIZATION -

Ur­ban pop­u­la­tions across the South are grow­ing fast: by 2030, some 5 bil­lion peo­ple around the world will live in cities.

How well peo­ple dwell is in­te­gral to their men­tal and phys­i­cal health. Most squat­ters and slum dwellers – a cat­e­gory that in­cludes half the ur­ban pop­u­la­tion of Africa, a third in Asia and a fourth in Latin Amer­ica and the Caribbean – live in makeshift homes made from what­ever they can ac­quire. These dwellings are usu­ally un­safe and vul­ner­a­ble to fire, floods and earth­quakes.

An ar­chi­tect has tack­led the prob­lem of how to cre­ate in­ex­pen­sive but durable and beau­ti­ful homes for the poor. Ira­nian-born ar­chi­tect Nader Khalili has cre­ated what he calls “su­per adobe” dwellings inspired by tra­di­tional Ira­nian ru­ral homes. The cone­shaped homes are made from sand­bags piled one on top of the other in a cir­cu­lar pat­tern. A ba­sic home is three rooms of 121 squareme­tre­sand­can­be­built­by­fivepeo­ple(with­on­ly­one­need­ing skills) within weeks. Be­ing made of sand­bags, the homes can easily be dis­man­tled and moved or adapted to meet new spa­tial needs.

Khalili first fell in love with the sand adobe homes of the Is­lamic Re­pub­lic of Iran in the 1970s. He had been on a jour­ney to find a home de­sign that was both en­vi­ron­men­tally har­mo­nious and could be built any­where in the world quickly and cheaply. While the orig­i­nal Ira­nian sand adobe is easily de­stroyed by earth­quakes and bad weather, the “su­per adobes” are earth­quake, hur­ri­cane and flood re­sis­tant. They are now be­ing built across Africa, the Amer­i­cas and Asia. – (Jan­uary 2008)

A “su­per adobe” home un­der con­struc­tion.

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