Decoding Design

First 1K House prototype built in China

Posting in Architecture

Developed by an MIT architecture graduate, the Pinwheel House meets the challenge of building affordable, sustainable shelters for highly populated rural areas of emerging and developing countries.

The first prototype to emerge from the 1K House studio at MIT is a modular home constructed in the Sichuan Province of China. The Pinwheel House features standardized construction and assembly to build basic, affordable housing in rural areas of developing countries.

The project was designed by Ying Chee Chui, a New York architect and 2011 graduate of MIT’s Department of Architecture. Originally designed to be constructed with solid earth block wall and bamboo, the prototype features an earthquake resistant structure made of reinforced brick walls and wooden box beams.

The 800 square foot Pinwheel House is made of four room modules around a central courtyard. The modules and the courtyard can be reorganized within a nine square grid to create different configurations and layouts.

Inspired by One Laptop Per Child, the program that brings low-cost computers to children, and the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan, the 1K House project investigates the feasibility of building low-cost homes for a total construction cost of $1000. Because of changes in size and materials, the Pinwheel prototype was $5925, a bit over the target of $1000 but nonetheless a small fraction of the typical housing cost in the US.

The designs and research in the original 1K House studio were based on affordability, livability, and sustainability. The studio researched and developed design innovations that reduce wasteful construction practices while creating structures that met or exceeded basic requirements for safety, sanitation, and comfort.

The next iteration of the studio will investigate shelter solutions based in the recently damaged areas of Japan. The 1K House professors, Yung Ho Chang and Tony Ciochetti, want the studio to find quick housing solutions that provide decent living conditions following natural disasters. Creating design templates for inexpensive and simple houses would help countries quickly rebuild structures. The targeted construction cost of this fall's studio is $10,000.

Via: MIT News Office

Images: Ying Chee Chui

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Sun Kim

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Sun Joo Kim is an architect and creative consultant based in Boston. Her projects include design and master planning of museums, public institutions, hospitals, and university buildings across the U.S. She holds a degree from Carnegie Mellon University and is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure