Small is in Style

After watching the movie about Shigeru Ban and disaster relief housing I became fascinated with similar types of housing and wanted to see what other types temporary housing are being used today in similar disaster situations. To my dismay after a rudimentary search through Google I didn’t find much.


What I did find was several sheik and contemporary unit or “container” homes. Such as the Ecopod, the aerie loft, the drop house, or even the wee house, which was designed by a firm right here in Minneapolis. These are great in their own way because they don’t take up much room and often have very green aspects built into them, such as solar power or composting toilets, but none of these homes would be very practical and would be far too expensive to consider when dealing with thousands of disaster relief victims at a time.


Within my search there was one disaster relief house that did stick out and in my opinion was on par with Shigeru Ban’s paper structures. That house was the recycled pallet house by I BEAM architecture and design where they use recycled pallets to create these structures. These are the perfect building material for relief houses because not only are they recycled but they should be easily on hand because of shipments that come anyways to deliver food and other supplies to disaster victims. And if they run out of recycled pallets that are on hand, they can be made rather quickly with just a small cost of $500 per house. Another great thing about these houses is that when they are no longer needed they can still become permanent structures and with just some miner retrofitting, they can become lovely sheds.

After finding out how hard it is to easily find disaster relief housing, and after looking at good examples of this type of housing in such units as the ones by Ban-Sama and I BEAM architects, I realized that this type of housing would be perfect for student run projects. Not only do these houses tend to use materials you would often find students experimenting with, but also because of the design restraints, this type of project reminds me of something students should be working to create. I think it would be a great idea for the UMN to come up with a workshop or lab that specifically deals with this type of problem. Also where else could you find cheaper volunteers than with University students?

Works Cited

Recycled pallet house.

Examples of small, efficient houses.

Wee house


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