On the GRID...

Tuesday 23 Apr 2013

Australian-made disaster housing prepares for international use after NSW showcase

An affordable, sustainable and easily transportable house designed specifically for use in the world’s disaster areas is ready to be rolled out for humanitarian use around the world and a prototype will be showcased at Nowra in rural New South Wales this week.

Designed by award winning Australian architecture practice CarterWilliamson, GRID house can be built if necessary in 3 and a half hours flat. It houses 8 to 10 people, and includes sustainable features like solar panels and natural light and airflow, and even a mezzanine level for sleeping and privacy. GRID, named after the Norse goddess of peace, was originally conceived as a response to the tsunami in Banda Aceh. Over the past 7 years, CarterWilliamson has developed and tested its initial concept, and the structure is now ready for use in either remote areas or areas hit by natural catastrophies - flood, hurricane and earthquake.

"In a world increasingly challenged by man-made and natural disasters, we felt it was vital to develop a reliable, cost effective, sustainable housing model, which can be assembled quickly and transported cheaply and easily to diverse and remote locations." said Shaun Carter, Principal of CarterWilliamson.

"Most emergency housing is not designed for long term living, and is unhealthy and unsafe. People deserve better, “ Carter said. “Our design overcomes all those problems, and is essentially a permanent home. It is also scalable to a macro level - depending on culture and location, GRID can configured in a number of different ways, and can be installed on or off municipal services. We envisage up to 500 homes on a single site, forming a real community or village."

GRID’s clean lines and modest materials belie the sophistication of its design. Inverted Acrow props, traditionally used for scaffolding, are reinvented as its support columns and can be adjusted to suit large variations in devastated terrain. The prefabricated flat packed structure, based on a 2.4m unit system of standard material lengths and truck-load capacity, can be easily transported to remote and inaccessible locations and assembled by 4 unskilled workers in one day.

The ultra-fit, fully insulated, steel-frame structure utilises photovoltaic cells and a roof-mounted solar hot water system; rainwater tanks collect roof water; and barndoor windows ensure the building is thoroughly ventilated. Sanitary amenities, including a composting toilet system and a shower along with gas bottles for cooking, are located on two external perforated metal decks to maintain hygiene and to isolate these activities from living and sleeping areas.

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