Bay Area architect Joseph Bellomo was putting the finishing touches on one of his side projects, a modular studio for a client in Hawaii, when he heard about the earthquake. Because of the nature of the structure, which had been designed specifically for a tropical climate, he couldn’t help but think that it might be a good option for those made homeless by the devastation.
Instead of heavy concrete walls, this modular house has an incredibly lightweight frame of steel tubes. Yet it can withstand tropical gales and requires only a minimal foundation of a few concrete blocks. It is robust enough to be a permanent, not a temporary shelter. “It’s the concept of an eggshell, where you only need the minimal amount of structure and still have something that is incredibly strong,” says Bellomo, who was inspired to take a bike shelter he designed for Bike Arc one step further.
“We’re going for a kit of parts that the average person can assemble quickly–like an IKEA house, only easier to put together,” says Bellomo. The prototype 150-square-foot module weighs only 3,000 pounds, and all the components can be flat-packed into a box that is 4-by-10-by-3 feet, for easy shipping. Now Bellomo is looking for sponsors that are interested in sending hundreds of insta-houses to Haiti. Clearly, speed is of the essence.