Decent and Affordable Housing for the Poor
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.