How best to provide adequate housing when disaster strikes? Weather-related calamity can be sudden – think earthquakes and tsunamis. It can be forewarned – as in hurricanes, floods, and droughts. And it can creep up slowly through rising sea levels and civil unrest.
In Urgent Architecture: 40 Sustainable Housing Solutions for a Changing World, author Bridgette Meinhold showcases 40 emergency and long-term housing projects built from conventional materials, but also from sandbags, straw bales, and re-purposed shipping containers.
Some are real, others theoretical, but each is designed to grapple with changeable environments and for fast deployment.
The LifeCube prefab deploys quickly and houses a family of four.
Gabion structures reuse the rubble left by Haiti’s devastating 2010 earthquake. Fragments are placed into wire baskets creating blocks to build retaining walls and earthquake-proof structures.
In Pakistan, reinforced straw bale homes are built out of regionally appropriate materials using few tools.
Built on stilts, the Porchdog House can withstand flooding. Its structure can safely tolerate hurricane-force winds.
Millions of people lack decent housing. There’s critical need for safe, sustainable home designs that are buildable with local materials and hardy enough to withstand severe environmental conditions. And to be realized, they need to be cheap.
Meinhold’s produced an essential resource for anyone interested in sustainable design, affordable housing, and humanitarian relief. The book is organized into five categories: rapid shelter, transitional shelters, affordable housing, prefab housing, and adaptable housing. Examples are taken from Malibu and Milan, Bangladesh and Haiti.
The author is an American engineer and Architecture Editor for Inhabitat where she writes about green design, architecture and sustainability.
El Tiemblo is an energy-efficient residence made from four shipping containers.
Urgent Architecture: 40 Sustainable Housing Solutions for a Changing World, by Bridgette Meinhold, published by W.W. Norton, 2013, 256 pages, $50.