Image 1 - First MIT Inexpensive Housing Project Prototype Completed
September 15, 2011

First MIT Inexpensive Housing Project Prototype Completed


A graduate of the MIT Institute of Technology has completed a first-of-its-kind prototype home than can be built for a fraction of the regular cost, the school announced on Thursday.

The prototype has been called "Pinwheel House" and was designed by Ying Chee Chui, a 2011 graduate of the MIT Department of Architecture. The home was constructed as part of the Institute´s 1K House Project, a collaborative effort to create housing that costs $1,000 to construct.

Chui reportedly originally designed the structure in 2009 while working as part of the design studio that originally launched the 1K House program, which is designed to create affordable housing for areas hit by natural disasters. The actual cost of the home was $5,925, and it was built in China's Sichuan Province, which had been hit by an earthquake in 2008, according to a press release.

"After the earthquake, this project came as a natural thing to do," MIT professor of architectural design Yung Ho Chang, who helped oversee the project, said in a statement. "It´s not just about how cheap the house is, but if it´s decent. When you look at living conditions in parts of China, India and Africa, they don´t meet the basic standards of what we think of as real housing."

Chui said that the project was "from the heart," and was built with hollow brick walls, reinforced with steel bars and wooden box beams. It features a modular layout consisting of rectangular rooms, with a central courtyard-style space in the center, MIT said in their Thursday press release.

A smaller version of the house, which reportedly can withstand an 8.0 magnitude earthquake, can be built for approximately $4,000, Chui said. The actual prototype was about 800 square feet, while the smaller version would be 500 square feet. Furthermore, it might be possible to reduce the expenses further if a great number of these homes were built en masse.

"The module can be duplicated and rotated, and then it becomes a house," Chui said. "The construction is easy enough, because if you know how to build a single module, you can build the whole house."

According to the project's official website, the idea for the 1K House came about from a previous MIT initiative to build a $100 laptop computer. MIT's Center for Real Estate Chairman Tony Ciochetti said he came up with the idea while driving through rural areas near Delhi, India.

Other house styles currently in development as part of the 1K House Project are one made entirely of recycled materials, one with a frame constructed from bent bamboo tubes, and one resembling a shoe box that is tilted, affectionately known as "The Drunken House."


Image 1: A model of the house with the roof removed. Photo: Ying chee Chui

Image 2: The interior of the house designed by Ying chee Chui as part of MIT's 1K House project. Photo: Ying chee Chui

Image 3: The exterior of the house. Photo: Ying chee Chui


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