Emergency Housing Mexico, A Home for Everyone

Elemental House
Emergency Housing Mexico, A Home for Everyone

@ Praxes

The Elements of Home

Elemental House is a prototype and planning proposal to relieve the Housing Crisis across the Latin America in immediate future. The proposal focuses on providing higher quality living in short- and long-term habitats by re-imagining fundamental Elements of Home – Air, Water, Light, Thermal Comfort and the Community.

Modularity: The Elements of Architecture & Neighborhood

The 4.5-square-meter basic module consists of approximately 18 m² raised interior space and 2 m² semi-exterior space. The raised floor option provides an opportunity to separate the soiled area and living space, also, this semi-exterior platform provides in-between seating area between the inside and outside of the module. By separating the ground and floor, the lifespan of the floor will lengthen, also, added vinyl (or waterproof membrane) layer will relieve the water damage and heat loss.

It is easy to add or adapt sizes and locations of the openings with the proposed wood framing system. The flexibility will allow more effective responses to climate, daylight, cross ventilation, and layout needs.

One of the walls is constructed with the portable pre-fabricated shelves which serve as structure and storage at the same time. They can be fabricated at the shop and delivered to the site. The front half of the shelves is facing the exterior which can be used as green wall, laundry drying area and outdoor storage. The multi-purpose interior and exterior shelves are also an effort to help residents to feel more settled by keeping their belongs organized.

Additionally, the proposal shows how the module can be expanded, adapted and converted to more permanent residence. All modules are based on the 4.5 square-meter, kitchen and bathroom modules are the half module (4.5m x 2.25m), expanded units are the double (4.5m x 9m) or triple (L-shape) module (9m x 9m). The kitchen and bathroom units can be shared or privately connected to the Basic Module, also, the latter option provides ample living space. These units can be developed in phases and modified as needed. Furthermore, the presentation illustrates how the proposal can help the neighborhood building prospect in the settlements.

Sustainability and Adaptability: Material Choices

The modules are easy to assemble, dismantle, adapt and expand which may ease the relief effort. Materials are carefully selected to meet the tight budget and minimize the environmental impacts. The proposal is based on the current module, however, in the near future, façade and finish materials could be added or improved with the minimum revision.

Thermal insulations can be provided with the Cavity Wall system. Based on the location and budget, walls could be filled with straws (Insulation Value R: 1.48), shredded clothing or carpet (R: ~2), packed saw dusts and more. For reference, the insulation value (R) of sealed air space is 1 and a single layer brick is 0.2*. Double layered wall may cost more compared to the current module, in lieu of cement boards, the exterior grade Wood Varnish or Wax is specified. Also, eaves of the roof and PVC Pipe rainwater channel will help minimizing the water damage to the exterior panels. When the module is being converted to the more permanent home, additional waterproof membrane, insulation, siding and panels could be added to the cavity wall.

The roof is built with the wood framing, panels and folded Waterproof Membrane. The membrane can be replaced in the future; however, it would save time as well as cost. For the Hot and Humid Climate, Roof Membrane can be opened to provide ventilation for comfort. The cavity between the Interior Fabric Ceiling and roof can be used to provide additional insulation as needed. The pitched roof also helps with collecting the rainwater without the mechanical equipment, depends on the location of the water tank, channels can be routed and located accordingly.

Elemental House believes the relief effort is an on-going process. The modular design is based on human scale, dire needs and fundamental elements of habitat – Air, Water, Light, Thermal Comfort and the Community which will better the living conditions and provide foundations for the future.