Eco-shelter made from crop residues

During natural disasters, houses are often wiped off the face of the earth and people are forced to live in tents. In Haiti, six years after the devastating earthquake of 12 January 2010, many people are still homeless. Dutch architect Pieter Stoutjesdijk has devoted his graduation project to developing an eco-shelter especially for Haiti that can be constructed in five hours and is made entirely from crop residues.

The main objective of Stoutjesdijk’s graduation project in 2013 at the Delft University of Technology was to make an open, online database with digital blueprints of building components. With these components, he designed the eco-shelter for inhabitants of Port-au-Prince in Haiti who had become homeless after the earthquake.

The house is made from 122 eco-boards, which can be locally produced with crop residues such as grass, pruning chips, or reeds, and a non-toxic binder. To make it waterproof, the panels are covered in a nanocoating. The blueprints can be easily be downloaded off the Internet. The panels can be cut with a CNC milling machine with an accuracy of 0.1 mm. Each piece has a specific joint that locks into its neighbouring piece, securing them in three directions to create a strong bond. The house can be constructed with a rubber mallet.

The roof of the shelter is shaped like a parabola, designed to collect rainwater that can be purified on-site for consumption, or heated by the sun to generate energy from steam. Additionally, the double layer of the roof allows for maximum ventilation in the house.

Stoutjesdijk’s company, ECOnnect, prides itself for the customisability of the houses, which can be adjusted to fit the needs of the inhabitants. The Haiti eco-shelter was made with many doors, because the people there live outside a lot, but the design can be changed for different circumstances, climates, and cultures. Stoutjesdijk hopes the houses can soon be manufactured on a large scale for Haiti, and for the Western world with the necessary adjustments.

The first prototype of Haiti eco-shelter is currently on display at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. The exhibition lasts until 1 January 2017.