Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Alternative Housing: Unusual Choices and Emergency Shelters

I've written in the past about small houses and alternative housing structures (see: Small House, Big Benefits; Prefab and Modular Housing: Solutions to the World's Housing Crisis?; and Alternative Housing: From Small to Quirky). Here's more information I'd like to share with you.

WebUrbanist has an eight-part series on "Crazy Houses" that includes a few small homes we've already seen along with others we haven't (rev: see credit below for photo at left). The series includes links to some "Crazy Condos" that are worth a look. A search through their architecture archives will turn up some outrageous homes of all sizes and shapes. Not all are suited for the socially and environmentally conscious builder or buyer, but it's always interesting to see extreme houses and take away the ideas that could work for the rest of us. The post on 16 Excellent Temporary Emergency Shelter Designs should be mandatory reading for any group or agency working on housing people after a natural disaster.

A post on Gizmodo features a five thousand dollar "paper" house that accommodates eight people in about 400 square feet. Nigeria and Angola have placed orders for the house. The blog refers to it as "the world's swankiest hobo pad" and many who commented made fun of the feature that allows for slaughtering animals on the veranda. Reading the comments revealed how little many people know of the housing needs in third world countries (and, sadly, in some rural parts of our own country).

But the concept of alternative housing goes beyond innovative design or unusual building materials. During this time of economic crisis, several generations of a family may end up living together; people may rent out rooms in their homes to get extra income; and some "planned communities" are now more appealing because of the extra emotional and financial support they offer. We'll explore these options further in another post.

© 2009 Cynthia Friedlob

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