January 19, 2009
Swiss Company Offers Paper Homes
A Swiss company known as The Wall AG, has created a $5,000, 390 square foot modular home.
This house is marketed towards third-world towns, for long-term refugees. The Universal World House can be transported and used almost anywhere. It is light, easily assembled, environmentally friendly, earthquake-proof and extremely cheap.
The Universal World House is crafted out of a resin-soaked cellulose, made from recycled paper, shaped into honeycomb walls, which provide structural integrity and insulation for the home. It also comes outfitted for plumbing and boarding facilities of up to 8 residents.
The home's inventor, Gerd Niemoeller, says that the paper house weighs just 1,763lb, which is lighter than a VW Golf. "Without the foundation block, the whole house actually weighs in at about 400kg," says the design engineer. However, despite it being light, the house will not simply blow away.
Once you add heat and pressure, the paper house becomes extremely stable. The prefabricated interior has an air vacuum that fills each of the units, resulting in a strong and stable exterior wall. Similar construction techniques to this are used in aircraft and high-speed yachts.
"But they are working with aluminum and other alloys, which is expensive, time consuming and energy intensive," said Niemoeller. "That is not suitable for the third-world people." The prime purpose is to create intelligent housing settlements almost instantly for the displaced and the urban poor.
"People don't want to flee their countries, they've been driven to leave their homes out of the need to survive," said the 58-year-old engineer. "The number of migrants, refugees living in improvised housing, is going to grow with climate change, and we offer an alternative." The alternative would be to the corrugated-iron sheds and lean-tos so often seen in the slums of the developing world.
There are eight built-in single and double beds, along with a sealed off area that houses a shower and bathroom. Architect Dirk Donath, from the Bauhaus University in Weimar, designed the home, along with German development aide agency GTZ.
Besides having a sleeping area, there are shelves, a table and benches. "It has been designed so that a family can slaughter an animal on the veranda, wash it in the shower and hang it, along with fish, on an integrated washing line." The whole wall of the kitchen can be tipped open to let air in and to distract the distinction between the inside and outside.
The Delta State oil developers in Nigeria, are amongst the first inquiries for the home. Over 2,000 houses have been order by another Nigerian company. Development aid agencies are looking into using the homes for those fleeing from the cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe. South America is also interested in the houses.
The houses will be built in northern Germany, near Kiel, and sent, along with the raw materials, to the target countries. The homes are put together on the spot, which will create local jobs and reduce transport costs.
However, there is said to be no reason why the homes are to be limited to third-world countries. The panels are rain resistant, and it is not required to butcher a goat on the veranda, there could be other uses found for it.
Quotes From Times Online & Gizmodo