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Cardboard houses for disaster areas

A prototype of a temporary waterproofed cardboard house adaptable to diverse environmental conditions in Colombia providing housing with basic utilities was designed by Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNal) students.

Bogotá D. C., 18 de agosto de 2016Agencia de Noticias UN-

The prototype is designed for a container to harbor 12 houses.

Four out of ten Colombians were victim of natural disasters between 2006 and 2014.

The proposal occupies eight square meters for four people.

Corrugated cardboard is an ideal material because it is light, recyclable and easy to assemble.

Universidad Nacional in Manizales.

The proposal of four UNal-Manizales School of Architecture and Urbanism students is lightweight, easy to transport and takes approximately three hours to assemble.

This modular project occupies eight square meters and can house eight people, it works like a Meccano construction set, in other words its parts can be built by any person without prior construction knowledge.

In Colombia, these houses can substitute lost homes due to natural disasters. Additionally lost houses are built in metal, wood or concrete, which are unfavorable aspects to tend to rapidly and opportunely in an emergency due to the difficulty to acquire and transport these types of materials, the time it takes to build and the high costs of the materials.

The process of identifying a suitable material was carried out at the UNal-Manizales Soil Laboratory where they tested several materials including fibrocement sheets, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), acrylic, hardwood, corrugated cardboard, plastic and zinc corrugated plastic panels and zinc canvas.

The materials which complied with all the specifications were the hardwood for the floor, weatherproofed cardboard for divisions and enclosures and waterproofed canvas for the roof as it is a flexible material easy to fold and store, making it easy to transport in comparison with corrugated plastic panels.

The students said that corrugated cardboard was suitable because it is light, inexpensive, recyclable, thermoacoustic and easy to assemble.

“Testing the resistance of cardboard was determined with laboratory tests carried out in UNal-Manizales multi-use testing equipment. This is how we established that this type of material works as an enclosure,” said architecture undergraduate Angélica María Gómez Arteaga.

Four out of ten Colombians fell victim of natural disasters between   2006 and 2014, in other words 12,298,849 Colombians were victims of floods, earthquakes, fires of avalanches. Besides loss of valuables lives, collapse of infrastructure such as houses is one of the aspects which most impacts people that suffer from natural disasters.

“Despite the catastrophes suffered by the country there are still no sufficient measures to guarantee optimal refuge to impacted populations,” said UNal-Manizales Professor Gustavo Adolfo Agrego Cardona.

Adaptable module

The prototype can last approximately two years and is comprised of two collapsible modules, one for the kitchen and bathroom and another multi-function.

According to cost estimates, the projected cost would be Col $3,000,000 (USD $1,025). In other countries using different materials the cost of similar housing ranges between USD $ 2.000 and $5.000.

Furthermore the students say that through a foundation system the house could adapt to different topographic conditions of Colombia. For this they propose altering some parts for different types of terrain.

With the purpose of the module responding appropriately to the aforementioned conditions, they opted using a foundation system which allows altering the height of the house according to the conditions of the ground.

The designers wrote a manual which specifies the instructions of use and assembly. They hope the government and the agencies in charge of risks and disasters become interested in their proposal.

According to Agrego the prototype could be a suitable refuge after any kind of catastrophe. Therefore victims not only have a temporal place to stay but while their situation changes, their waiting time is more dignified.

More information at www.unperiodico.unal.edu.co

(Por: Fin/UNP/MLA/APBL
)
N.° 299

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