The $300 house – final countdown!


With the $300 house contest we’re addressing a truly global issue.

Call them Favelas, Gecekondus, New Villages or Skid Rows  – substandard housing, squalor and lack of tenure security is known and witnessed all over the world. Though nearly a quarter of a billion people were lifted out of slum conditions over the last decade, the number of slum dwellers continues to grow due to rising population and urbanisation. According to a UN Report the total number of people living in slums now stands at 827 million – and will likely grow up to 889 million by 2020.

China and India, the world’s most populous countries, have together lifted 125 million people out of slums in the last decade, while a further 112 million escaped poor conditions in the rest of the world, according to a new report from UN-Habitat, the UN agency for human settlements.
But increasing urbanisation has led to many more new slum-dwellers, meaning the total number now living in crowded, substandard housing – often without safe drinking water and sanitation – has increased by nearly 55 million people since 2000. The worldwide number of slum-dwellers now stands at 827 million and is on course to grow to 889 million by 2020.

Rio de Janiero, Brasil

Favela in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil by World Resources

While China and India alone managed to lift 125 million people out of poor living conditions over the past 10 years, Africa made very little progress in improving its people’s living conditions – 2/3 of the slum-dwellers worldwide now live in Africa. Especially the 34 sub-Saharan African countries struggled to help their inhabitants – these countries now have over 60% of their populations living in slums.

kampala slums

Kampala slums, Uganda by Sustainable Sanitation

Kibera slum, Nairobi, Kenya

Kibera slum, Nairobi, Kenya by Chrissy Olson

Needless to say, the world is in need of a solution to house the poor.

jovoto teamed up with The $300 house to come up with a solution to design simple and affordable dwelling. We already have more than 100 submissions, over 1,100 comments and a lot of media buzz – amongst others, the Economist, the Google Sketch Up Blog, Core77 and The Globe and Mail picked up the project.

We’re seeing a lot of discussion over the use of materials, simple and not so simple designs, prefabricated vs. built-in-situ solutions, traditional and new approaches, affordable and not so affordable ideas and are witnessing how everybody is digging deeper into the topic and gaining more and more knowledge around the issue – in a nutshell: the greatest, sincerest involvement by a large number of people that are trying to do their part in making the world a better place.

Of course, there are more issues besides the actual housing design – e.g. land rights have also been discussed briefly. Nevertheless, if we come up with a feasible idea, this is an important first step towards finding a global solution to one of the biggest problems we’re facing.

8days left in the contest – let’s get ready for the final spurt, jovotoans!

Thumbnail picture: Mumbai, India by Jon Baldock



    safe comfortable space to be.
    We toil too long to provide a roof
    to house soul ,toothbrush and skivvies.

    The naked ape rails against the elements
    grasping for purchase
    to raise the kids.

    how the hell do you enter this competition…cant find anything anywhere…?

    it has become very apparent that this contest has turned into a design nightmare and a fresh out of design schools “hey check out my idea” that costs way to much, is not local, does not use local materials, needs manufacturing, and just simply is not sustainable. I hope the jury seriously keeps this in mind when they go to pick the best home that actually does do what these homes need and not what looks prettiest, some of the design submissions are methods in use now, some are new fresh ideas with waste materials.

    Hey David,
    I have to agree – there are lots of hand drawn sketches in the contest that are clearly only about the concept – and even the ideas that according to you “look pretty” do have an elaborate concept behind. Of course some ideas meet the task better than others, but if you look at the ideas in depth you will see their value – and you will also notice that the judges’ comments demonstrate that they didn’t only look at the pictures but at the concepts as well.
    Well, let’s wait and see who the community and the jury chooses!

    i think you misunderstood david, nsonne. he was not basing his assessment of “design nightmare” ideas by the roughness of the sketches or renderings. to the contrary, the majority are hiding behind slick renderings and have very little of value underneath. the deeper we look, the less we find. perhaps you yourself have yet to break the surface.

    After taking part in this contest I found it to be just that A CONTEST
    The comments generated
    were many times defensive in nature. Im not aginst demanding explanations
    and I sure as hell like a clean bout ,but perhaps the assumptions of
    ideal conditions and improper conclusionss marred the substance and validity of proposed solutions . Notice I said solutions and by that I mean designs that are
    able to stand and weather bthe elements. At the same time I realize the value
    of a concept or/and idea.
    If I could advice the judges I would suggest that they separate all of the entries
    in perhaps 3 types of categories

    One could be the PURE IDEA where the connection methods waterproofing methods or foundation logic is not at all explained or considered (as in many proposals)

    Ideas/proposals with built prototypes
    They could be inspected and further analyzed for better evaluation of possible usage
    and challenged with respect to the parameters (which we seem not to be trully defined completely yet) needed to be satisfied.
    This category should be given full attention since the authors have allready solved
    many of the issues and can walk the judges through their questions.
    Many entries fall under this category

    Third but not least is the Hybrid type of entry. I use that name because
    its a cofusing one where there is neither a clear idea nor a real visible prototype,
    but rather its composed of idealistic social manipulated statements that imply
    world solutions of fantastic magnitudes through a revolution in how to build
    a shelter with all kinds of local super materials and imaginary assumptions
    of physics, statics, hydrology and lots of other sciences.

    My concern is that it seemed so far that the hybrid type of solutions are
    being preferrd (Idont know how the judges think because Ive not heard any of them except the tech advisor , ) but for a question which deals with such a serious
    need as basic housing , it would seem to me that we may need more discussion and really define the MUST SATISFY REQUIREMENTS AND CRITERIA that the solution must be able to attain. Its great that we are even at this stage of discussion , because Im sure that all of the contestants are allready touched and affected by what they saw
    (I Know I am)

    I thank this website for the opprtunity to excersice and display my thoughts . Its such a great medium

    Thanks to everybody
    Emilio Escaladas (elbobo)