Alternative Social Housing: Prefab, Add-On Homes to Densify Suburbs

Prefab, add-on home annexed to existing house. Image© Adamo-Faiden

As masses of people get out of poverty in developing countries, they are also getting out of slums (sometimes literally, sometimes metaphorically). But as social housing is built in vacant lots in the outskirts of urban centers, it presents all the problems of suburban sprawl.

Argentine architects Adamo Faiden have created a concept which adds an interesting, controversial spin to the conversation. What if, instead of building new houses on virgin ground, we added prefabricated units on top of existing homes?

Prefab, add-on home annexed to existing house. Image© Adamo-Faiden

Prefab, add-on home annexed to existing house. Image© Adamo-Faiden

Before asking why in the world would someone want to sell their rooftop to another family, it's good to note the architects came up with the concept by considering biological mutualism: those cases in which two species have a symbiotic relationship which benefits each other.

Thus, they expose some situations in which they believe this could work: a small business owner who has had the same employee for years and could benefit from such person being closer to work and looking after the shop when closed, a young family who could benefit from having a single mother living above and helping with child-care, an elder couple who could use the liveliness of a new family when their own children have left the house.

Image showing interior of add-on home.© Adamo-Faiden

Apart from decreasing the impact of social housing building in new environments and improving neighborhoods economies with densification, the add-on houses would prevent the ghetto-effect that new housing complexes usually create.

Pre-fabricated with a steel framing structure, MuReRe houses are extremely light, fast to deploy, and adaptable. Once installed, they become new infrastructure for the house underneath: for example, allowing rainwater collection and the installation of solar panels with their pending roof. (It's important to note that the predominant architecture in Argentine-cities' suburbs is the concrete box, with flat rooftop.)

Scheme showing the add-on home structure and placement. Image© Adamo-Faiden

The architects accept that the project is not an alternative city model, but more of an intermediate solution: even duplicating the existing density, the houses wouldn't be enough to reach the optimal parameters of a sustainable city. However, they could bring about improvements in very short periods of time.

Image showing add-on homes effect in the urban setting.© Adamo-Faiden

What do you guys think of this idea?

Related Content on