Modular Refugee Housing Built from Shipping Pallets for $500 - $3000

Fair Companies/Video screen capture

Back in 2006, Leonora posted about Pallet-House—an award-winning design for modular, DIY refugee housing built from recycled shipping pallets. That design later featured in Lloyd's roundup of shipping pallet architecture, and now our friends at Fair Companies have created yet another awesome video—interviewing Pallet-House creators Suzan Wines and Azin Valy, and documenting how one of these small family abodes can be constructed in a matter of days using either hand tools or—preferably—a few basic power tools.

Fair Companies/Video screen capture

From the Ikea-style pictorial instructions, to the adaptability of the design for either complete, affordable housing, or a more rudimentary transitional housing structure, it's clear this concept has been thought through in great detail. And in case anyone is wondering where folks would find shipping pallets in a disaster zone, the basic premise is that shipments of clothing, food and other emergency supplies will be arriving on pallets—so this design utilizes the waste from that process and upcycles it into one of the most important human needs of all—shelter. Because the pallets naturally have cavities, they allow for wiring and insulation to be added long after the basic structure was completed, often using vernacular materials such as mud, clay and stone from the surrounding countryside.

Fair Companies/Video screen capture

The important question to ask though, suggest Wines and Valy, is why the heck this initiative has not been implemented yet in an actual refugee situation? And while the answer to that question remains a little ambiguous, they do suggest that it has more to do with politics and economics than it does actual feasibility. Given that the makers claim each house can cost between $500 and $3000 depending on materials and labor, you'd hope that's something that we can get around eventually.

For more on the project, check out I-Beam Designs, and in the meantime be sure to follow @kirstendirksen and @faircompanies on twitter for more awesome videos on all things tiny and clever in architecture and green building.

Tags: Architecture | Green Building | Natural Disasters | Poverty | Recycled Building Materials | United States

Best of TreeHugger