MIT’s “1K House” project encourages designers and architects to create affordable, sustainable houses for the billions of people around the world living on less than $1 a day. MIT graduate student Ying chee Chui built the first prototype of the project, called Pinwheel House.
Tony Ciochetti, the Thomas G. Eastman Chairman at MIT’s Center for Real Estate, envisioned the 1K House project after seeing a family of four coming out of a tiny mud hut, during a visit to India. “There is a huge proportion of the world’s population that has pressing housing needs,” he said, “can you build affordable, sustainable shelter for such a large population?” Ying chee Chui was the first to complete his challenge, by building the innovative Pinwheel House, in Mianyang, Sichuan Province, China. His design has a modular structure with hollow brick walls, wooden box beams, and steel bars for reinforcement. The Pinwheel House also features a small central courtyard and can withstand an 8.0 magnitude earthquake.
The long-term goal of the 1K House project is to build a $1,000 house, but Chui’s prototype was a little more expensive, with a total cost of $5,925. He ended up creating an 800-feet building, rather than the original 500 feet, and that apparently caused the higher cost, but the young Chinese is confident a smaller module could be built for $4,000 or cheaper, if a series of such houses was built at the same time. “The
construction is easy enough, because if you know how to build a single module, you can build the whole house,” Ying chee Chui said about his Pinwheel House.
MIT’s next project will focus on creating sustainable houses for up to $10,000. The new designs will focus on making cheap homes following a natural disaster, like a tsunami or an earthquake.