'The $300 House' Challenge

Bring affordable housing to the world’s poor. $25,000 prize pool

Bring affordable housing to the world’s poor.


From the one-room shacks in Haiti's Central Plateau to the jhuggi clusters in and around Delhi, to the favelas in São Paulo and the township settlements in South Africa, the problem of housing-for-the-poor is truly global.

The $300 House Project, originally conceived by Vijay Govindarajan and Christian Sarkar, is an initiative to bring affordable housing to the world’s poorest: a plight facing roughly two billion people.

They started with five simple questions:

  • How can organic, self-built slums be turned into livable housing?
  • What might a house-for-the-poor look like?
  • How can world-class engineering and design capabilities be utilized to solve the problem?
  • What reverse-innovation lessons might be learned by the participants in such a project?
  • How could the poor afford to buy this house?

The project has grown from these simple questions into a global forum of experts, innovators, entrepreneurs and advisers. One of the biggest challenges faced is harnessing the thoughts, insights and concepts offered by the growing global community of supporters.

Task Definition

Creating a viable prototype is the first of many challenges required to successfully bring a $300 house to market. There are a multitude of considerations, but in essence the challenge faced is straightforward:

Design a simple dwelling that can be constructed for under $300 which keeps it’s occupants safe from the weather, allows them to sleep at night, and gives them both a home and a sense of dignity.

Not only is the challenge one of extreme design efficiency, but also that of material choice and implementation. Numerous factors should be taken into account, amongst them: regionalism, sustainability, cost and replicability.

To be successful, innovators and entrepreneurs have to address the multitude of design challenges that have bedeviled previous attempts at affordable housing:

  • Low-cost, the $300 figure being largely arbitrary but a useful means of anchoring expectations is based on studies that people who have escaped poverty live in shelters worth roughly $370. $300 is a reasonable, yet aggressive, price.
  • Self-built or self-improvable, because that both lowers the cost and works to reduce the potential for corruption capturing donor aid.
  • Low-tech, because we want the slum dwellers themselves to build or improve or expand their house, as this will generate income for them and reduce the risk of value capture by landlords and rent-seekers.
  • Local materials, preferably those that can be found or bought very cheaply.
  • Build greener, cheaper and encourage sustainable homes and communities.
  • Replicable, since the slums are proliferating faster than any government's or formal sector's capacity to cope.

Unlike design challenges faced in the ‘first world’ a smart solution doesn’t necessarily mean an innovative product, but a solution that exercises humility and is firmly grounded in reality. The following video by Paul Polak illustrates 12 steps to consider when solving problems for a target market we’re seldom taught to cater to.

The following valuable insights were shared by Bill Gross:

  • Give your customers options. One size fits all models for kit homes are not likely to succeed across multiple countries or even multiple cities or states within the same country. Successful designs need to be customizable, allowing families to use local materials and adapt the house to local cultural norms. It is also ideal to offer different features according to the needs of your specific customer.
  • Choose the right materials. A number of materials are available on the market today, from bamboo to foam, to galvanized steel. Materials must be selected not only on the basis of cost, but on durability and compatibility with local aesthetic and functional norms. Can your product withstand extreme weather like floods and earthquakes? Is it vulnerable to termites, corrosion, or damage from everyday use?
  • Make it both practical and sustainable. Growing families need the ability to modify, move, or add to their homes as time goes on. These practical needs can be met with ecological responsibility, and making homes out of recyclable, reusable materials should be mandatory.

Award and Workshop
Briefing Update on May, 23rd:


The goal of the this contest is to find identify 5 concepts and designs to be tested as full scale prototypes. The top 3 community winners and 2 jury nominations will be invited to a 2 week prototyping workshop. The specifics of the workshop are yet to be determined, updates following soon.


Judging Criteria



  • Feasibility. Can the design easily be realised using existing technology and materials for under $300?
  • Viability. What are the chances of the design meeting additional cultural and commercial hurdles faced in bringing it to market? Is there a business model or business plan presented along with the idea?
  • Adoption. What is the probability for global adoption and retention?
  • Impact. What is the anticipated impact to society and personal well being
  • Sustainability. Is the design green and affordable?

Submissions can be made in the form of image and video files. jovoto is an open submission platform and encourages you to submit thinking throughout the design process, from your first napkin sketches all the way through to final rendered prototypes, for feedback and review.

Further research, ideas, inspiration and a whole lot more can be found on the $300 House site.



Target Group

  • Cultures across the globe.
  • Ages 16-60.
  • Low income (Base of the pyramid).


  • Safe
  • Secure
  • Practical
  • Sustainable
  • Aspirational

Mandatory requirements

The dwelling should meet the following requirements:

  • The house can be constructed for under $300.
  • The structure should be no smaller than 2.2m X 2.2m
  • Space to sleep and cook.
  • Access to light.
  • Access to drinking water.
  • Access to electricity.
  • Constructed with durable material that will resist the elements for 50+ years.
  • Secure from animals and criminal elements.
  • Resistant to fire, storms, earthquakes and other natural disasters.
  • The house NEED NOT have sanitation. Sanitation in a $300 House village will be housed in a centralized communal facility.


Show older comments (136)

the most practical solution to this challenge already exists, only it doesn't have a fancy name. you might have a store near you that sells them. ask for a "tent". you can get a super deluxe one for under $300. however i'll play along in the hope that something more crime resistant is possible in the same price range. i have my doubts.

Developing and third world countries do not have stores that provide tents. and also Tent is not very durable and suitable for conditions mentioned.

think through it. you can sell them a mass produced tent no matter where they are. and modern tent materials are very durable to any weather. that's what they were designed for.

no its not. its a good temporary solution. yes, it can be very durable for different climates and grounds be it doesnt feel like a home. it doesnt offer the feeling of a home. And of course it;s not secure & safe. it's only a temporary shelter.

for $301 we can include a welcome mat and a lifesize cardboard cutout of a policeman to stand up outside.

Safety is probably the number one issue which differentiates a "house" from a "relief shelter."

if you don't have legal and legitimate permission to be one the land, any house is still just a relief shelter.

I like this challenge. It´s better to have a strong Idea, which is complexe (with different Ideas / all in one? Or is better just give you different options, in diffrent Ideas?

hey richardo, the good thing about this contest is that you get the community's feedback - so you have the possibility to submit different approaches, wait for the feedback, and then develop the one that according to the community (comments and rating) has the most potential. Looking forward to your submissions!

yes this is true, yet most people who dont understand -and havent even read the brief - rate regarding if you have a renedered image or a sketch. i dont understand why people bash immediately when they see drafts. As if it is always going to stay a draft... So at least for me, the ratings do not reflect at all wether your idea is good or not. Pay more attention to the feedback, ricardo, especially for a humanistic challenge like this. Hope this helps :))

cannot access www.300house.com, any one knows why?

seems to be up right now...what error are you getting?

in the meanwhile, this post links to key resources, many of them HBR blog posts - http://blogs.hbr.org/govindarajan/2011/04/the-300-house-go-go-go.html

As far as I can see it's up again!



Have a look at the pictures. You will find shelters, homes and simple construction of many old cultural roots buliding their homes (and some freaking awesome hippy houses as well) = )

Its worth buying it.

Best from Berlin, Yours Jesko

let's just say that house is too well ventilated.

First, fire safety, don't build a house out of kindling. Second, house of cards, There is nothing in that stack of pallets to resist an earthquake.

So wie es aussieht werden wohl leider einige Ideen gewinnen (unter den ersten 15), welche in dem Briefing geforderten Vorraussetzungen nicht erfüllen. Kann dies überhaupt sein?

Kann eine Idee gewinnen, die die Vorraussetzungen des Briefing nicht erfüllen?

Hey Richardo, first of all - please keep in mind that it's still early in the contest so you cannot predict any winners at this point. You normally don't see an idea win that doesn't fit the brief. The community will choose its favorite, but the majority judges ideas according to their fit to the brief and it's only a disappearing minority that might not have read the briefing in detail. Moreover, supporting/unfair votes will be identified and disabled as well. So there's nearly no chance that an idea wins the contest that doesn't fulfill the requirements. Last but not least, you also have the jury prize and you can be sure that the judges will look meticulously at how well an idea complies with the requirements. Thanks and good luck, Nathalie

Cheers to you, I waited a little to reply to this note of yours. I do not feel that easy about the rating game we are playing here, me included. I thought that perhaps a two step rating system could help us, me in any case, to get rid of this nasty feeling that something is just not right. First step of the rating should judge the compatibility of the proposal with the criteria. It should be a simple yes or no vote. The second step should be as is now and would apply to all proposals independently of the criteria. I would think this would be a help to you as well. It would certainly help me to make a better judgement and evaluations of the ideas, which may be great even if they do not fit the criteria. Too late for this Challenge, but perhaps for future challenges.

JMKO has a great idea. When looking at the top 20 at any given time more than half don't meet the criteria of the brief. Many of them have not even put in the time to understand how much their idea might cost (so how can they even say their idea is complete). I think a judge or contest guide should review the ideas in advance to give the yes or no before they are put to the public. The ideas given the no (that don't meet the brief) could then be listed in an Under Construction zone so that they could also get feedback as to how their good idea could be modified to meet the brief.

Guys, we see lots of ideas for pre-fabricated housing designs coming in that are super interesting - but please always think about a way how to construct them anywhere with local materials. As soon as you have to include shipping in the budget, it will most likely blow it... Thanks for your high involvement so far, we're looking forward to seeing all your ideas!

do we really need it to work everywhere? if the prefab design helps a fraction of the homeless in applicable locations, it would be arrogant for us not to explore the idea on grounds it isn't the holy grail of solutions.

Also to add to @nsonne's point.

It is useful to think about the system around the house

  • what can be built on site or near the site?
  • who can do the building? will local people be trained and/or are particular skilled people required (perhaps for education, supervising critical steps in the process, like material preparation, inspection of finished structures like foundations, etc, etc)
  • where will materials come from - lots of comments around what may or may not be available locally - rural vs urban.
  • can you share structures? ie. a shared wall or walls can help offset costs versus single freestanding structures.

sorry if this is obvious, but want to consolidate feedback across a number of designs.

finally congratulation on some fine efforts and constructive feedback.

good thoughts, but are you suggesting we all localize our projects? the brief asks for flexible solutions that can be used worldwide in rural and metro areas.

teigan - what shaunabe is suggesting is to find a design that is replicable and can work with regionally different local materials as stated in the brief.

materials work best at specific scales. and in some cases chemical reactions are involved for which ingredient substitutions degrade the product. you can't use bamboo the same way as thatch and get optimal results. nor can you use clay bricks the same way as concrete ones. simple substitution will not work. especially given the experience level seen so far, it may be better for each idea to specify a target region and do thorough research on local materials and best practices on building with these.

I think that's a good suggestion and helpful to get started with an idea - design your $300 house picturing a certain region with its local materials, weather conditions, cultural factors etc.

As a second step you should try to think further though - how could you slightly modify this idea to apply it everywhere in the world, e.g. what materials could substitute certain materials that are available only in certain regions, what would have to be added to make this house safe in the case of earthquakes, to make it "waterproof" in heavy rain regions etc.

So if you start with step 1, but also consider step 2 you can create a truly holistic approach that works perfectly for one environment, but can be applied to others as well. Curious what you'll come up with!

by us all doing and sharing such research, the online information could be a valuable future asset, and the contest has already actually accomplished something practical and tangible.

I am rereading some of these notes and find that many people make reference to a "shared wall". In every case it is brought up as a cost saving measure. The common "shared walls" walls are never built just for saving costs, they are in all cases a compromise solution, you have to give up something in return. I wonder if you realize that the "shared wall" can never be extended to create a larger space. You are stuck in the limited space you built in the first place. Either we respect the design criteria set out for this Challenge or it is a free for all intellectual design exercise, which is great, mind you, but it should have been announced as such.

JMKO, thanks for your message. I don't fully agree though - as long as you don't share all of your walls you will always have a possibility to extend your space. Of course it is a compromise, e.g. a reduction of audio privacy, but it is a compromise that I'm sure lots of people currently living in a slum would be happy to go with. From my point of view it's perfectly in line with the design criteria.

the $300 house challenge lumps all homeless people into one. in reality, they have very divergent circumstances and challenges. for example land rights issues; do they have some assurance that they can stay where they are? based on the answer, two very different approaches need to be taken to meet a $300 budget. there is no house or building system that can work across the board, and everything ends up an unsatisfactory compromise. the brief is very misleading in making a rash generalisation that corporate involvement and economy of scale is a magic wand that solves all budget problems. you'll notice many of the entries are claiming costs will come way down in mass production without citing any known mechanism or formula for calculating that discount. if the challenge brief is unclear and sends conflicting messages, then there is no hope of quality entries or thoughtful rating.

teigan, I can only repeat myself - we're early into the contest, there's still plenty of time left to refine submissions - yes, at the moment budgeting is probably the biggest issue for everybody, but at the same time everybody is working on it, doing research and we're also working on providing some help on that. There's no harsh generalisation from our part going on either as we even stated that regionalism would be one of the most important factors - but replicability is the magic word, it might not work in all the slums of this world but it should work for a number of them. Moreover, land rights is a different problem - maybe there will be a contest on that some day, but it definitely does not belong here, the task is to design simple dwelling under $300. You can send me a private message that points out exactly where there are conflicting messages and where we should clear the briefing and we can discuss that. Thanks ;)

you so effortlessly retort me as usual, and i think you and jovoto always come off looking better from our clashes. i'd like to think i bring up widely held issues that others are too shy to mention for fear of being labeled negative.

land rights are not a separate issue. in fact the value of any home is nothing without a sense of permanence. building a house on trespassed land, or free land one can't defend is pointless. it is comparable to building a house on quick sand. you could lose everything in a moment. in such cases, the end user would not put in the necessary effort to obtain a $300 home or a $30 home.

i'd even venture to say that if we offered a $300 tract of land, the buyer would be resourceful enough to build a functional house without pretend architects advising them that hexagon shapes look cooler.

Aww teigan, I don't consider my replies to your concerns as clashes ;)

Land rights are not a separate issue when it comes to housing the poor - but it is not the topic of this contest. The task is complex already and I think we all pretty much agree that we shouldn't add any more complexity by including land right issues. If you insist on including it in your idea, I'm curious to see it so go ahead - but we're not going to make this a general requirement for the contest.

land rights should have come first, but as you realise it is too late to fix that folly. land rights would be another locality dependent task. so it should be addressed in the regional research attachment we agreed would enhance each submitted idea.

Teigan may come off a little harsh, but he (she?) does make some good critical points.

When I first heard about this challenge, my mind immediately began wondering. A $300 home, that is not possible, or is it? what would it look like? So I started some ideas, but every time I got stuck with questions. Questions the briefing does not awnser.

I think I like the general idea of the project, however the briefing raises more questions than it anwsers. In the briefing there is no link to the original project (www.300house.com) which has a lot of background information nor does it have a link to the blog, which seems to document the process.

There is, however, a link to a movieclip on the blog which gives 12 steps to practical problem solving for the poor. The first 3 steps are not available to the majority of the competitors here. This raises the next question; isn't it a little arrogant to think we can come up with the solution for a problem in a world we know virtually nothing about, just by thinking up neat designs behind our computers?

On to the target group; Cultures across the globe, Ages 16-60, Low income. I mean.. wow! and only one solution? that is a lot of people, and I can see why companies see dollar signs.

But think about the cultural differences, family-sizes, rural/urban, weather, is it cold/warm, does it rain a lot, how do they cook, what is the cultural difference between men and women, what building materials are available, how much time of a day do they use their homes, do they have stores in them, where is their food/water coming from, how does transportation work, how is the infrastructure, where does the waste go, one could go on and on. There is no way that there is going to be a one-size fits all solution.

Reading into the subject, and digging up some info about the project, it started with an idea from professor Vijay Govindarajan, walking through the slums of Chennai, India. This would narrow down the target group to a more workable size, but is this going to be the target group?

If this would be the case, how much place is there to build? Are the homes going to be build in the slums? or will there be another place to build, how much would the ground cost? who is paying for the infrastructure (not only roads, also water, waste, energy)?

$300 homes are already made around the world, what is wrong with them? their homes may be worth $300, but could they actually pay for another $300 home? Why is this group of people poor in the first place? Why is their government not taking care of them?

Mr. Govindarajan suggest that business would scale the project to its necessary size, but the briefing suggest self-made homes with local free materials because 'As soon as you have to include shipping in the budget, it will most likely blow it'. How would this work in a business model?

don't get me wrong, I love challenge and the good cause. It could indeed make the world a little better.

hey vegter, thx for your thoughts. Good that you pointed out the 300house website - though I have to contradict you here, the link IS given in the brief, in the last paragraph of the task section. 300house.com website and blog have a lot of useful background information, however this briefing is the guideline for the contest - the briefing states that is has to be self-built and made of local materials so this is what the submissions should be geared to.

As to your question whether it wasn't arrogant to think we can come up with a solution for a problem in a world we know virtually nothing about: this is why we made this an open contest - to get the input from as many people all over the world, in the hope to gather people who have been to slums etc. and can talk from experience as well as people who have expertise in this field, connect them with people that have ideas and creative skills, and come up with potential ideas that again are discussed by a broader public. We don't assume per se that we will find the one and only solution here, but we're trying to come closer to a possible approach that might help housing the poor.

And re: your other concerns - the briefing states that there is no one size fits all solution, and that the design has to be customizable. And I've said above that it is probably best to start by picturing a certain region you want to design the house for, so you can plan re: local materials, weather conditions and cultural factors. However, in a 2nd step you should try to make it replicable for other regions, by considering which locally specific materials could be exchanged by other materials, how the design could be adapted to the individual climate conditions etc.

I think we all agree that it's a great BUT challenging task. Let's work on this together to "make the world a little better".

thank you for your reply, very useful. And I am sorry I over read the website, my fault!

joke !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! £180

leave it to the brit bystander to put it in a nutshell. i still think nsonne can save it from being too silly, especially if more people speak up.

Come on- and take it as a challenge.

300 bucks isn't much, true- but that's what it is about. If we want to make a real change, these limits may be hard- but it's up to us to break them. Nobody said you have to build a house for a man with 3 wifes and 8 children.

Think about a realistic expendable module that can be adopted to it's place (and culture).

_h from Berlin

You hit the nail on the head - that's the attitude we need here... Thanks for the good vibe and greetings from Berlin to Berlin!

I guess this contest needs more feedback from the jury. Most of participants, inclusively myself, doesn't have an idea if submissions meet the real needs of potential clients and if the constructions doesn't breaks the tight budget of 300 $ (in thirdworld countries).

hey KLAR, you are right - as you can imagine, Yves Béhar & Co. are very busy people - but we are trying to activate them, and we've already seen Shaun and Christian comment a lot. And what's more: you see the discussion between the creatives digging deeper and deeper into the topic - everybody's doing a lot of research and sharing it with the others. That's the spirit we were waiting for! So, yes - we will get you some more expertise feedback, but you can already be proud of how your knowledge is growing from the other creatives' input!

Great Site, lots of neat ideas but Home Design needs to be a local project. It needs to uses readily available cheap or free materials. It needs to consider local customs, way of life, even religion. And it definitely needs to consider weather so are we designing affordable housing for Moscow, Shanghai, Vancouver, Iqaluit or Haiti.

My concept would be to give private sleeping rooms with a sink but to make all other spaces multi use communal areas. And to have a design incorporating the ideas of the future residents. It can't just be a self contained box. Thousands of those have already been built by outsiders and they are seldom a long term success. These homes need to be built & maintained by the local population. And there has to be opportunity for the concept & the community to change.

It somehow also needs to provide a local source of government, a strata association or community league and a source of security, neighbourhood watch, block parent... and all the other necessities including food a community requires.

Designing a box from my living room in Canada may make me feel good but it will not help the homeless or poverty stricken for more than a year or two. To design requires empathy with the client & you only get that by being there.. on the ground, sleeping & eating with them.

Hey billie, re: your concerns that everyone needs to have been to a slum to design a house for such - you have a point here, but obviously not everybody can go there so we created this contest to connect the people with experience and expertise with the ones with ideas and creative skills - please read my comment above where I already replied to similar concerns. Thx, Nathalie

World Class Engineering

Think energy & communications

Everyone, even the most destitute have cellular technology. How can we make that cost a dollar a day. That would be a good goal. How to provide electricity & light for a dollar a day. Make the basics of living affordable. How to get water & sewer to everyone for a dollar a day. How to include education & educators for a dollar a day. Literacy is the biggest problem stopping people from moving ahead.

World Class Engineering won't help at the housing level. The housing has to be built by the community & the community needs to understand the process if they are going to maintain it. We are taking people off the land & putting them into caves.

hey billie, "World Class Engineering won't help at the housing level. The housing has to be built by the community & the community needs to understand the process if they are going to maintain it." - exactly, and that's why the briefing states that the design has to be self-built or self-improvable as well as made from local materials.

Have you heard of Barefoot Power? www.barefootpower.com

Access to modern energy is crucial. Barefoot Power is starting with the most basic of energy uses - to provide indoor lighting and charge cell phones, at prices that even the poorest can afford.

In 2010, Barefoot Power won 1st prizes in three out of four categories at the IFC/World Bank 'Lighting Africa' Awards for their range of affordable solar/LED lighting systems.

Awesome products. Too bad they aren't available in Canada.

Guys, here you go with a little update/further details to the brief.

The design should meet the following points: • Primarily for tropical and sub-tropical climates. • Minimum living space of about 80 square feet • With an elevated floor. • A roof and at least two walls. Must be completely enclosed by something (eg screens) to keep insects out. • Able to survive sustained 110 mph winds. • Able to survive a earthquake measuring 7 on the richter scale. • A well maintained life span of 50 years. • Easy to assemble by a moderately skilled worker. • Made from readily available materials including but not exclusive to reuse or recycled.

This helps to guide the design, thanks. What is consider readily available?

why did the client increase the minimum living space? or are they just bad at metric/english conversion?

the survivability specs are meaningless. as if the jovoto community has any clue what structures can survive winds or an earthquake. they'll be lucky if their idea doesn't kill the construction crew.

Category 2 Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale

84 to 95 knots 96 to 110 mph 154 to 177 kph 980 - 965 mb

"Storm surge generally 6-8 feet above normal. Some roofing material, door, and window damage of buildings. Considerable damage to shrubbery and trees with some trees blown down. Considerable damage to mobile homes, poorly constructed signs, and piers. Coastal and low-lying escape routes flood 2-4 hours before arrival of the hurricane center. Small craft in unprotected anchorages break moorings. Hurricane Bertha of 1996 was a Category Two hurricane when it hit the North Carolina coast, while Hurricane Marilyn of 1995 was a Category Two Hurricane when it passed through the Virgin Islands."


Insane the wind speed may be to mankind but it is part of mother natures armoury in Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka the clients have specified on the 300house.com site

after perusing some of the entries,having visited,worked and lived in the hottest parts of indonesia,let me add my 2cents: there is no way in hell normal,locally attainable building materials and their dimensions can make a 80-squarefeet [7-squaremeter] habitat liveable for anything else but the coolest nightimes.

design here all look dandy,but unless the brief changes to "nighttime shelters only",consider the humidity,heat from reflecting soil and cooking area,amount of carbondioxide coming out of the inhabitant.

the only way it would work is to apply some old colonial architecture basics:double the wall thickness,double the roof height. hth.

I really think this is starting at the wrong end. Great to come up with concepts & ideas but that only puts blinders on if you arrive on site with a firmly planted seed that you are trying to sow. Successful design is starting with a blank page & a client. This forum should be about the process, the people, the country, religion, culture, health, literacy, infrastructure & weather of the community. The process needs to give guidance in how to incorporate all those factors.. and many more into successful design. Starting with the design is contrary to everything design is about.

If you have not seen the site or met the client you are wasting your time. Unless you are talking about temporary shelter you need to understand the people. Temporary emergency shelter needs this forum. But housing isn't shelter. And our homeless are surviving. They need homes yet this process can only provide shelter. Still lots of fascinating ideas are presented here but they are all just temporary shelters.

Hey billie, you seem to have a lot of knowlegde about the topic this contest revolves around - so why don't you try to help everyone to develop shelter ideas into real housing ideas by commenting on the individual ideas rather than here, underneath the briefing? That could be a great help! Thanks.

The challenge is a simple one, if you don't have a house then you need one. It crosses all races and religions regions politics. Designers have ample, overwhelming knowledge about the condition of the homeless and their needs. We know this. The simplest form of shelter is a tin lean to or a hole in the ground. That is the only accommodation some of the people this house is for.

Nsonne is right the UN talk a lot about the sociological needs of the poor in target countries and will print you a ton of brochures and drop them off at your house if you ask them nicely.

We need designers and builders now we know the issues we don't need to re-visit here, exploitation, poverty and need are not going to disappear

how is it exploitation? i don't profit from their despair. real exploitation would be using their plight as a way of promoting myself or my company. sound familiar?

In Canada we have issues with Northern Housing.

Architects came up with some really good home designs. Energy efficient 2 & 3 bedroom bungalows which are packaged in the south & shipped north for assembly by subcontracted labor.

But people in Goa Haven don't live like people in Edmonton. In the Northern Communities someone is always home. Hunting & fishing are almost daily activities. There is always a pot boiling on the stove. People congregate in houses.

The problem now is the number of people in a house & the high humidity levels. The problem now is a return of Tuberculosis. The housing we have been shipping North for the last 20 years, anywhere from 300 to 700 homes a year has created the biggest health crisis ever in the North.

So to people like Teigan & Vegter I saw Right On !! Your insight is what we need. I too am fascinated with the designs (some of it more art than design) but fascinating anyway. But this contest... just like the one which determined the direction for Northern Housing in Canada... set a dangerous president & may even start a movement to head in a dangerous direction. Actually it WILL do just that since the "Award Winning" Design is due to be built somewhere.

If this forum is about design then the page needs to be blank when the designer, the client & the site first meet.

I hope ya'll do come up with several $300 houses but I think Mr Vijay Govindarajan may have over looked a point.JFK challanged the student group,he didn't give them anything till they came to him.With a (or several)$300 houses in mind,Mr Vijay Govindarajan will have to challange The poor,they have to beleave in themselfs I hope this contest makes a difference---good luck all

JFK no more affected change than a cheerleader scores points at a sporting match. dropping his name seemed irrelevant at best and only confused the issues at worst. the poor are not helped by political posturing and flashy charity gestures. they and we need to stop having children. contrary to popular belief, children are not the hope of the future. they are the reason for a declining quality of life worldwide and a bleaker future life of their own. this contest will turn out to be no more than a public relations exercise. there will be no long term benefit. let's hope nobody is injured or killed by the heavy walls and ceilings being proposed as prototype possibilities.

so i think joining u all here is the funnest! ... im just wondering what happens with the design after the contest? .. after the prototype stage? will it be implemented into housing the people in need? and by who? is there a team networked with those people, r there investors funding transportation for a team ? r the needy areas accessable or will this be a long trek into the future? will the design then be sold to those people and impemented by who any orgs lined up? what kind of work would the people do to pay for the cost element?.. if a design wins a prize does the designer maintain production rights to that design .. if it's to be sold? and .. what if i cant go to Alabama? would we start the team there? or just build the houses then go away? ...ps i love this place! :)

Hi everyone - I just wanted to bring in a few thoughts we had when we wrote the first blog entry about the $300 House. Our intent was to encourage individuals, businesses, and non-profits to work together to solve the problem of housing for the poor in developing countries.

So with that in mind, we have been encouraging businesses to look at ways they can engage - how can they serve the poor with affordable products and services?

See: A New Alliance for Global Change by the folks at Ashoka >> http://hbr.org/products/R1009C/R1009Cp4.pdf

Now, with regards to this contest sponsored by Ingersoll Rand and hosted by Jovoto, our objectives are to encourage designers to design for the poor - to rethink traditional design practices, and to make sustainability affordable. We want the designers to preserve their IP rights to their work - if they so choose. At the prototyping workshop, the winners of this design contest will have an opportunity to rethink everything with people like John Bielenberg and Alex Bogusky. The resulting prototype can hopefully be turned into an entrepreneurial venture or ventures - led by the participants.

That said, we are also encouraging private entrepreneurs and companies to build or extend their own solutions. Along the way, we have discovered people and businesses that are already working on the $300 house concept at a higher price point. Companies like UberShelter, WorldHaus and Advanced Bamboo Products - we want them all to succeed!

The market is huge, and we need many players to serve it.

VG and I are don't plan on starting a non-profit, or a for-profit, for that matter. We're happy to serve as facilitators, in this loose collective at 300house.com where we share (and learn) ideas and methods - with the objective of making this idea a reality.

Does that help answer your question, danunu?

These are very tough parameters. In my opinion the way to make it work is use agriculture residue or a production grass of some sort & inorganic fiber composites have been used for centuries. There is a rich history of a patents from Europe. The problem is a technology transfer problem as much as it is a systems engineering and material science problem. A very large chemical company that I have worked for in the past developed the "1000 hour boil" to assess building material warranty probabilities for field failure. I would make this specification for your jury to consider. Accelarated weathering is not an exact science! You should call in QUV as a jury consultant.

Guys, its about half-time! First of all - KUDOS to all of you - we've seen submission starting of as basic ideas, rough sketches - and then all of you have done immense research, digged deeper into the topic, invested a lot of time in helping each other to improve their ideas, updated your own ideas, helped each other out with cost estimates... Expect the jury to get active over the next couple of days, MBhoot has already commented a lot and the rest also promised to involve more now. To prevent a misunderstanding as I have seen it being discussed in some of the ideas: any labor cost is not to be included in the budget, we're really only talking about material/construction cost.

And just to remind ourselves what we are working towards, I'm sharing some links with you that tigeraster posted underneath his idea - they show pictures of slums all over the world and point out once more that there needs to be a real housing solution: http://www.topnews.in/files/Dharavi.jpg http://www.flickr.com/photos/soumik/196151232/ http://www.pwindia.in/Libraries/People/dharavi-slum-in-mumbai-.sflb.ashx http://www.fittofly.info/wp-content/uploads/2008/02/dharavi.jpg

Thanks a lot to all of you for your involvement and let's roll up our sleeves once more for the remaining weeks (sorry @teigan for using this metaphor again ;)!

that metaphor confuses us who do heavy construction work in just a bra and panties.

We re seeing a lot of great designs for rural settings, self contained detached homes. And some really are great but... the real issue is urban, high density slums.

I think we need to see more of the condominium concept with communal central shared facilities. There are a few of them in the contest so far but they need to be the theme of the entries.

Running sewer & water to every suite won't work. But have 6 or 10 units share the bath & kitchen & green space. Those units could be for extended family, not just strangers. Be modular in design & build components on site.

We also know the "projects" like we see in the UK, Europe & the US are less than desirable. To really work you need to mix up the community. Some higher end units, middle class to create a community, not just a clean, modern slum.

Great contest here, definitely over my head and will not be participating however I think the real winners here will be the ones who focus on ancient civilizations and their living practices. Research some old archaeology and modernize it. My two cents to whoever is reading this! :) Good luck everyone

in ancient times, there were less human beings in the world and more resources for everyone. i agree with you that a thorough knowledge of the past is the best starting point. but life is far more challenging now than before and only getting worse. your own peers and government are the greatest hindrance to survival.

Evolution will make any of our assumptions of today caduque by tomorrow. What we can do today is be humble and have the respect towards those for whom we think our ideas will be helpful, to improve their lives a notch. Can we accept that our ideas should serve others first, thus giving the satisfaction of our job well done.

The $300 Shelter idea is making us aware of the dire need of many in this world for better living conditions, as the first step towards the construction of a better life and a better society.

Evolution will take it from there, without our intervention or participation. We can provide the first foundation stone, it will last and others can build on it if it is honest and solid enough.

if the jovoto ideas and ratings are any indication, then the world is doomed.

teigan, you have started to repeat yourself too much :)

as many as 5 times in one night.

Nice to have so many ideas, and would be a pity to not be able to put them in practice, just because they are not in the 300 $ target. If the idea is very good , but it costs 500-600 $, we can get a donations system - through which to cover the difference of 200-300$. We will not know if it works , until we try it :) Don't loose it, just because it costs more than the 300$ target.

it isn't good sportsmanship to show a $400 house and have it rate it against a true $300 house. that makes fair rating impossible. and the problems are magnified when the audience is uneducated with no attention to detail.

You are right, there is no sportsmanship - the question is : how many houses do really cost 300$ ? In what country they would have this cost ? For once - you could show it at its true value (now it may depend on the market) and state that part of the sum could be covered through donations. As for the attention to details, well ......

It is great to see how people defend their beliefs in earnest, I think most everyone is honest in this contest. Yet real solutions do not spring from beliefs if they are not anchored in reality, not in the immediate terms in any case. If one has to act now, it means immediate term.

There is objection to MASS PRODUCTION, yet there is a lack of understanding of the economy behind this type of activity. We want to use RECYCLED materials, not because they are appropriate, but because we want a clean environment and believe that recycling, the way we propose, will, or help to give it to us. Mankind will win the recycling battle in the long term, there is no doubt about it, our survival is at stake, but we have to go on living now and have to learn how to do it in a sustainable way.

No CONCRETE many say, yet we could not survive today without it. We must use it intelligently with expertise, for sure, but we can not eliminate it from our way of building things, not entirely.

I have learned a lot, about me, about my "adversaries" in this Challenge and about the whole community, yet I have not read a single comment, in all this time, from anyone who will have to live the rest of his life in the type of SHELTERS we are proposing.

Are we doing it for our own ego only, I do not believe it. Our wish to do well is sincere, even if we do not really understand the working mechanics of our Human kind.

i agree, there are many designs, just for the sake of being a proposal, i couldnt imagine any human being, even in the poorest, most corrupt country should be give the "choice" to live in some of the shelters. In my opinion this twist in the competition happened because the most important part of the brief seems to be the construction for under $300.

had the contest parameters been better thought out, this whole exercise would at least have been instructive to the participants and indirectly changed the world at a later date.

however, numbers were pulled arbitrarily out of nowhere. like "50 years" and of course "$300". we were provided no footnotes or bibliography to qualify the signifigance of these target figures. this reflects very badly on the quality of education at harvard business school.

The truth is that inmates, live in penthouses - compared to the house space in here. Most of the poor people - have big families, so is kinda hard for them to live in those measures.

I would like to know how much rating will influence the decision of the board? I came to know about this contest a day ago...i uploaded my idea..but my 'karma' and rating are extremely poor as compared to people who are in it since 14 days....is idea more important or karma????

hey ENSO, karma is important to show your activity on the platform but it doesn't influence your idea's rating. Good luck!

I am almost tempted to change my remarks I made 2 days ago, yet I do not think that I should. The fervor brings people forward, new ideas are formulated and it is good. You will learn this is a game of winning, on a short term. Give time, to time, things will clear up.

No need to change your mind your comments were all right on.

I particularly agree with the how using recycled materials, particularly plastic is in vogue. If you want to build economically you use proven techniques & materials that are in use in the region you will be developing. New technologies always involve hidden costs & technologies which have not been produced in mass for the last 10 years at least will have structural & health & safety issues with time.

Lumber, Concrete, Dirt, Rock, Bamboo. All good proven products.

This contest should be more about Humanity than Housing. Create a sustainable economy & the Housing will follow.

only five days left and nobody has yet submitted a dung house. such would be very appropriate to the spirit of this competition. we shall all be waiting in constipation.

This Challenge is a beautiful example of how democracy functions. There is everybody here, the idealists, the missionary spirits, the sharks, the experts, the cynics, the power groups, the Green Communists, the sincere ecologists, everybody, even the SILENT MAJORITY whose fate is being discussed, if not decided.
Of course the SILENT MAJORITY will get what it usually gets, it might even be good, eventually.

Just study this community and you know how the complete human society is working. ;-)

I know our voting is only one component of determining who gets the $25,000.00 but some of the top 20 really blow me away.... and some of the no shows... equally depressing.

As a contest for Designers I could be wrong but I think they want to know their design is still successful in 25 years & as facilitators of this contest I hope you chose a design which IS still around in 25 years.

That said I think some of the contest parameters are a bit short sighted. $300.00 for 50 years is not a great goal. $300.00 per year for 50 years might be reasonable taking into account not just the up front capital costs but also the ongoing maintenance & repair costs. Actually, $300.00 for a home is completely unreasonable. Everyone here is just playing the figures. ALL hype. NO reality.

But a lot of the designs are truly inspirational or at least practical. I really think that you need to come up with a contest which can pull together a team of experts, not just a design. There are a couple of contestants who have shown they can do it all but it will take them working with others to pull off a slum housing project. You need to pick 3 or 4 winners & then help them reach the next level.

I have found a few very talented individuals on this forum. I am trying to think of a way to stay in touch with them.........

Great Contest. It opens many doors. Keep up the great work.

This contest is a EYE OPENER to Home Values. I am enjoying all the entries and will use the experience in my own planning for the rest of my life. Thanks everyone involved.

I have the feeling that this competition, in the eyes many, if not the majority of the contestants, is not about a response to the criteria set out by the organizers, it is instead a CHALLENGE to DEFINE the criteria. I wonder how many of us have actually read the Briefing Notes.

I think the breifing notes were intended to give focus to the contest but lots of the contestants realize that focus is just too narrow and have expanded on that definition.

There are a few of course who just have a good idea even though it in no way answers the question. And the heated discussions around some of the ideas are very productive in opening our minds to a different viewpoint. I hope no one is put off by the criticisms some ideas have faced. Solving poverty is a noble cause & we all can offer solutions.

if we take into account the jovoto demographic,logical relevance of those who routinely contribute comments,the fact the so many of said people bemoan the briefs it should be cleared that either the community or competition is flawed.

living in indonesia,ive asked my sub-contractors [even those on national scale] on this,and none can come up material prices for a design that meets the current competition budget in this country. i will try to put a respectable design within the general price,but certainly something is to be said about this whole process.

wishing doesnt make it real,no matter the nominal motivation implemented. though there may be many arguments as to habitable space,$300 isnt enough in any third world country to create a "dignified" shelter. those contestants who raise the pricetag are immediately labeled cheating by purists. so the cycle continues.

though as noble as that sounds,theres the fundamental space-time variable to take into account. sure,given enough time,the caveman dream of not hunting,but exchanging paper for food has been resolved by the hamburger.

given that there might be a percentage of the target consumer who accept your design,the material you propose is locally available and|or accessible at the target price range,the majority in indonesia will not. why? because your concept of dignified is not their neighbours nor their communities,to which ultimately the role of grading falls to.

dignified your design may be for you,youre not the target consumer. a study of the third world country aesthetics,natural resource,local price might be more appropriate before such a bold statement.

even i would not assume my design is a given across the board,and would be the first to state that my scope is limited to south-east asia regions poor that i understand.

nobody is condemning your design -im merely pointing the fact that dignified is subjective,and no one design can satiate everyones hunger across the board. as such,ones parameters of the term dignified has to be stated. yours is supposedly dignifed to x community,aside from yourself,as mine is to,say,y community and myself. yes,its semantics,but language is both our medium and mirror to design psychology. and i stand by my statement that a house of your material and design will not be readily accepted by indonesias poor in their ideals of dignified habitat.

i dont understand your statement of consumers design,as our job here is to design for a target demographic we have no interaction with. so i will leave that clarification to someone else more knowledgeable.

back to my original statement,from the knowledge available to me of my target south-east asia demographic,both of material prices and their design aesthetics [more specifically,in indonesia] i can state for a fact that it isnt possible to create a dignified habitat within the given parameters. no amount of nominal motivation can change that fact.

as such i will push my idea on a price platform higher than the brief,not as an effort to define the brief itself,but as a last resort to contribute something productive to an otherwise illogical|flawed brief.

gwahahaha -i had no intention to i stir you up so much. if that was the case,i would have said something directly|bluntly into your entry than vague tiptoeing here. no my concern is on your claim of dignified -just dignified,without time|space parameters. no one design,especially with a limited budget,materials and|or grandeur can claim so much without falling flat on its face.

argument is a harsh word for what seems to me a civil conversation. and yes,i do agree its both lackluster and off-topic. agreeing to disagree seems the logical standpoint,especially on the brief. but let me add that the day you prove me wrong on both points will be both our gain,and that of the poor.

I tried to follow sentencewise with my ideas, and my knowlege about growing favelas. For shure, most problem is abusing, we can think us grazy, but the most of ideas of this cheap house competition are just a dream, as long as people have first to become farmworkers, before they get the help. And the others have to live outlaw. They need a simple Package and Time not to die by hunger before settle down. My respect for streetpeople. And 300 Doollar looks cheap for us. Thank You

I think a good - and unfortunately nearly unbeatable - are the earthbagbuildings (http://www.earthbagbuilding.com/).

One could save some hundred dollars for improvements of these homes...

A little history would be useful here. Adobe structures are ancient, earth bagging is new. Bags replace the manure forks, that folk used in the past to place the wet mixture, clay and straw, in most cases, today we use bags. We could talk about adobe bricks too, nobody proposed it yet.

Now about the earth, it is not just about any earth you find in your backyard, which is implied by many, it has to have a hight percentage of clay and it has to be clean.

The bagging is faster than traditional methods. Bags will hold and hide from view just about anything if the right stuff is not available, a sure scenario for disaster (just remember Peter).

Adobe buildings, just like modern buildings, need proper supervision and must comply with building codes. This is not mentioned by any of the advocates. The general impression is that we can do anything, just because our declared intentions are noble. Well this is not so anymore and will surely not be so as time progresses and the regulatory agencies become more effective even in the developing world. So let us not insult them beyond reason by pretending that we know better.

I brought up before the question of foundations, I was simply ignored or showed aside. If the foundations are important for a building, they are doubly important for an adobe structures and not only to prevent erosion. They are important to keep the adobe dry. So one needs an impervious foundation structure one that projects above the ground, why, because of the nasty splashing effect of the water. This is not negligible when one talks about costs.

Having said all this Adobe structure can provide a healthy living environment, very comfortable, if properly done and if the walls can be kept dry. One should remember how many cases of Tuberculosis had their origin in improperly built Adobe homes in the 19th and 20th centuries and how many cases still exist in damp, unhealthy homes today.

I am not condemning adobe homes by any means, but let us not make them into just a Trendy fun thing to do, they are infinitely more important than that.

Unfortunately perhaps, adobe buildings are no longer used today, partly because they are too slow and too expensive to build in the developed world in any case and because of the health concerns if they are not built with expertise.

JMKO said: "Now about the earth, it is not just about any earth you find in your backyard, which is implied by many, it has to have a hight percentage of clay and it has to be clean."

Are you referring to soil for earthbag building? Most any subsoil will work. Subsoil is probably the most abundant building material in the world, so yes, it's probably in your back yard unless you live on a rock or sand dune. It does NOT have to have a high percentage of clay, just enough to hold it together. But if it has extra clay then that's usually workable as well. No special formula is needed, but it's easy to amend soil with a little extra clay or a little sand to improve results.

OzenGeiger, do not get me wrong adobe structures will give you a very livable environment, I know I was born and raised in one. They were always built by specialist, if not disaster is just around the corner. Say what you may, you need a binding agent in the mix. my reference to Peter still holds.

I thought you were talking about earthbag building. My mistake.

JMKO, very well written. Your comments apply to far more than just Adobe or Earth Bag Construction.

Of all the designs one of the best "ideas" was in PStouters Business Plan, to CERTIFY the local Builders & then from that group train & CERTIFY a group of Trainers. Fits right in with developing an economy & giving those in poverty a sense of pride & accomplishment.

Any Design or Business Plan which intends to ship products in is destined for failure... You have to give the community ownership of the idea, design, process, construction & maintenance.

Why are most of these models without any cost estimates? It seems the primary objective of the challenge is to create a home that would be built for under $300. Thus, if you don't know how much your fancy 3D model would cost to build then there is no reason you should be sending it in, and moreover people should not be rating it.

hey bdj108, most of the creatives have added their cost estimates later on. if an idea does not include the cost estimates, it still deserves to be rated, however it's up to everyone to rate it according to their view on how completed the task is without giving cost estimates.

I agree that some of the ideas are viable even if the cost breakdown has not been done. However, it seems that there are many that are relying on a 3D drawing and not the facts involved in this task. Thank you for adding the questions below as this is what should be used to evaluate the designs.

bdj108, keep in mind there is a built in filter when it comes to those who will take the time to rate the projects. Most people aren't going to bother with registering and then going through the process.

One of the reasons we are seeing so many of the ideas that look good on the computer but wouldn't work in the real world rated high is because of that filter.

It is just the way it is with stuff like this.

What will be interesting from my perspective will be when those with the sketch up ideas attempt to build their projects if they place well in the contest.

Maybe if the idea is revisited the projected budget could be a separate area to fill in as a requirement? I see allot of "we use recycled material so it is free" mentality, and I have to say even my concept requires a large portion of scrounging.

But should/could there be a place were the judge gets to qualify/disqualify some from the entries?

Countdown - the submission period is closing in less than 2 days! We have 165 ideas already, and we're witnessing not only lots of stunning approaches, but also tons of insightful, passionate discussions that will certainly be a great help to shape the problem and hence get closer to the solution.

We extended the rating deadline to give it enough time - it is now June 9th. In addition, we would like you to answer the following 4 questions in a comment underneath your idea to sum up your idea in point form for the judges and the community (think of it as pitching your idea).

  1. Definition of the customer problems?
  2. How does the design address the customer pain points?
  3. What elements of the design are innovative?
  4. What are the approximate cost of the house?

Winners will be announced on June 10th. The workshop parameters have changed, I will update you here as soon as possible. Thanks a lot for your involvement guys, and good luck for the remaining days!

Is there a deadline to do this?

Can you explain what is ment by customer pain points? Does this mean, How does the design address the customer problems?

@ bdj108: exactly - think about the problems, needs, wants of the people we're design houses for and how does your design address them. @ JMKO: well the Jury decision will be announced on June 9th, I assume they will start looking into the ideas one week before that, so there is no fix deadline, but the sooner the better (it also might help you with your community rating, as it also explains the idea better to the creatives!

i noticed nsonne won't shut up about earthquake safety in her comments so i'll address that here briefly.

there are two strategies to avoid your building getting leveled by seismic activity. one way is to have a very rigid structure that maintains shape under a dynamic(shifting) load situation. most important to consider is the side to side (lateral) motion not present in every day situations. yet no matter how rigid you make your building, the house is still in danger of having structural components snap from unusual dynamic loading. so the alternate strategy is to allow your building to swing and sway in a controlled way. so most of the low tech contest entries would naturally survive an earthquake. even if they didn't, the light weight walls and roof would not harm the occupants.

especially when dealing with low budget and unskilled builders, low tech and light weight is the best way to keep the occupants out of unnecessary danger. i am both puzzled and concerned by all the inappropriately heavy construction being proposed in this contest.

a similarly low-tech alternative to allow for lateral movement is to keep columns and foundations as separate structures. common famous example are wooden columns supported by large stone foundation,as seen in most ancient japan temples. we also have several examples in indonesia albeit lower-scale and less famous.

this might add perspective to the light weight prerequisite above. my 2cents.

Teigan, I hope you're not lumping earthbag into your generalizations when you say "all the inappropriately heavy construction being proposed in this contest" or otherwise you'll be wrong yet again. Earthbag has passed two seismic tests, a seismic computer modeling analysis in Greece, extensive testing in the geosynthetics field (high tech industrial applications that use poly bags and tubes), destructive testing in South Africa, and now engineered plans are available for seismic and non-seismic areas.

when have i been wrong before? all the heavy construction methods have passed seismic tests before. so what? what you fail to comprehend is that shortcuts and mistakes will happen when unexperienced builders with limited budgets do the constructing, often without the benefit of proper plot planning and ground prep. your ideas are all disasters waiting to happen.

There are lots of groups in Haiti right now building and planning earthbag houses. I'm talking about small groups of students, church groups and so on. It looks like they're doing a pretty good job of it so far. You probably don't even know about these projects, let alone the structural details, and yet you make sweeping statements about their strength and durability. Also note, they're about 15 degrees F. cooler than other homes. The groups are happy with them and planning more. Some people mindlessly trash ideas without basis while others go about their business providing workable solutions.

you're the one making general statements without merit. it is completely pointless to claim earthbag buildings are 15 degrees cooler. the fact that you give a numerical figure proves you are trying to mislead. the efficiency of the earthbag wall depends on what you fill the bags with, and for this contest we are stuck with local materials. randomly filling the bags will have less than desirable results. the model earthbag homes i have visited all had the air conditioners on and owners admitted they were necessary. will the impoverished earthbag home owners have that luxury?

You do know that Owen live in one?

FYI, the earthquake in Haiti caused heavy solid Stone and CONCRETE to fall and crush people under their weigh. Todays technology allows us to create quality lite-weight and extremely maintenance free structures.

Good news of extending the closing time, with the added prompt to explain our concept. As in any competition with parameters, people always vary from it and focus on preferred parameters rather than struggle to meet all aspects. Focused concepts such as earthbagging or foundation designs will morph with others to develop successful resolutions; so no one should get too hung up that some designs don't meet all the goals.

Unfortunately the cost consideration has led us away from the essentials. The $300 was a good way to catch our attention, but now we have to go on and see the real problem. You are right in the end the concept is what matters. We talk about design often when we mean concept. I hope that the cost factor will no longer be the main point of discussion, the right concept will prevail at the end.

I don't agree. I think the main objective is to be able to build a sound home for people that can't afford more than $300. If we stray to far from this then we have achieved nothing more than creating cheap housing for the worlds middle class :(. While maybe one day technology would then make it possible to build this middle class house cheaper, we don't have time to wait until then.

i think many are emphatic when they read the words poor,and as such easily manipulated into the romanticism of doing something to their benefit. especially we designers with our ideals.

but,nearing the end of this competition,lets take a realistic look on the problem of dignified housing under the brief budget. ask yourselves,how many normal [read:unpoor] people,in this economy,can purchase their house outright and how many do so through installments? if said demographic cant,then why do we impose those ideals on the poor?

one of the brief prerequisites is that the design can be expanded upon -by the poor. this means to that extent we acknowledge the poor will be investing more money in the future into their shelters. that said,why are we placing such an illogically low floor on budget and not raise to something logical that can achieve the desired dignified result?

whatever excess pricetag can be met through community cooperatives,which also promote micro banking,and ultimately more self-esteem|dignity for its residents. that is,if the sponsors of this program are actually here to help the poor ...

The $300.00 budget is in my mind a guideline just as the 50 year life expectancy is a hypothetical. We don't want to squander funds on Rolls Royce technology but we are not necessarily going to throw out a $1000.00 home which shows real promise of low maintenance & a long life.... At least I hope we won't throw it out.

We want a good buy that the community will accept. The key being you need support of the tenants.

Note to DJgeldart, you are right, there are good ideas hidden behind incomplete detailing, these can be added or corrected at another date, by others, this is called teamwork. Nevertheless the idea is incomplete as presented and hides a degree of incompetence.

Good luck to all of the entrants!

I agree with bdj108- these plans can be honed down to an actual $300. Even if people add their budget costs in their comments over the next few days, it will give a means of comparison. A slim budget will allow some really needy people and some good aid organizations to start to build better in the near future.

A big part of the challenge in this contest has been to weigh parts of the technology and the design and to distill them down to their essence.

exactly. because these people desire the fasted transition out of poverty which means the price must be as low as possible to get them out of danger as soon as possible. every day makes a difference.

the "fasted" was mistyped on a tiny keypad. don't send me hate mail defending the hungry.

I find it odd that many of the project don't include anything more than four walls. I think the idea is to make a completed house. I will not hold it against those that did not yet think about the electricity or drinking water, but a house with no doors, windows, or roof is not a house.

Arrgh, I missed the submission time battling with Google Sketch-Up to create the drawings!!! I know it ended today, I just didn't look at the time. I will post it on HalfBakery, so at least someone knows all the time I spent on this. Darn job takes all my time!

Richard J Hauser MisterQED

Plug it up MisterQED, sometimes we all suffer with Sketchup while our imagination is running a marathon. post your link.

Adding up here, I wonder if we should add in a Refrigerator, Micro, 2 burner stove (cooker for the Brits) Piped gas support... let's just see how we can stretch that $.

My 2 cents for a cheaper project, Tokyo railway station sleeper pods and they can be rented out. have a community loo and a community kitchen (low cost restaurant equivalent). can fit it 6 times more people in the pods.

Give it a thought.


I made several references to "Peter" in my comments in this column before, it was not in the right context, but still may apply.

Just to clear up matters In effect I was thinking about "Murphy's Law", not Peter's Principle, I should have paid more attention, my apologies

Just for those who are not familiar with good old MURPHY, it states that in any systems or undertaking " IF ANYTHING CAN GO WRONG, IT WILL GO WRONG".

In real life things have to be tried and proven before we can state their real value.

Be nice if jivoto could have a few categories. There are some good ideas to bring component manufacturing into the economy of the urban slum but have no design for the housing. Would be great if the idea owners could pick a category rather than just lumping it a together.

There are also really good ideas to improve the social structure in these urban slums. Would be awful if all these necessary components were lost in choosing the "winning design".

Equally it would give more credibility to the "pure housing designs". A lot of the best "designers" rely on others to pull the engineering, social, cultural & economic details together. So many components are required for success & working with a team would be one of them. Not to say there are not a couple of idea owners on this site who can do it all but they can't do it all alone.

When will the jury vote and give feedback?

As stated above, the winners will be announced on June 10th!

I guess I need to refraise my question. Will the official jury vote/rate and leave feedback? If so will they do it for all projects and when will they do it?

The $300 limit my seem reasonable for other countries but why not look at small homes that can be built for under $2000 anywhere including the US and other countries ?

Here is a solar cabin for under $2000 that is as well built and comfortable as any large house- I know because I live in it full time!


We are coming to the end of this Challenge, slowly. We have talked about social issues, the environment, the designs and the role, the participation, of the end users in the process. We spoke of the creation of the Concepts, most prefer to call it, Design, in an effort to solve the housing problems in the Slums, worldwide.

In all this time we have not talked about the legal aspect of all this undertaking. The domain of designing and building homes, buildings, structures is as much a legal matter as it is technical.

The designer and the builder are both liable for what they do and for what they say. We looked at this Challenge with the very liberal view that anything goes as long as it responds to a criteria that we set for ourselves. In this Challenge this is how it works, in real life this is not the case.

We have omitted, even avoided to talk about good building practices and good standards that govern our lives, govern the way our dwellings are built for us. We have willingly transferred our liabilities to the end user. We made him an equal partner in this undertaking, with good intentions on our part. We presume he is prepared for it.

So what? One would say, nobody gives a hoot, there are no enforced standards, no building codes in any of the slums, why worry about it. Why bother?

We need to worry precisely because as agents of change in addressing this problem our duty to these communities includes setting standards for the design and construction of safe, efficient and long-lasting dwellings in their environments. It is quite possible that if such standards had existed in Haiti, the tragedy there could have been different.

Without this type of leadership we have no chance to see the slums disappear one day. All designs submitted for the challenge must live up to standards that will in the end help the slums to turn into communities comparable to ours, or better.

Having said all this, I think this has been and still is an incredibly fertile Challenge I bow my head to the organizers and send my sincere greetings to every contestant, without exception.

Building better housing for slum dwellers is of course the main thrust of most entries, and I'm sure some houses will indeed be built that will last many years. However, with a permanent structure we can only help those able to obtain land title which may be unobtainable for most in this income catagory. (Unless there's something we haven't been told). Perhaps we can follow Bilies' suggestion and have another contest with categories that separate such things as 'non-permanent', or 'job creating', or 'solves more than one major problem'.
Even if entries could be considered as brainstorming fodder, we could at least remove unproductive negative responses. After all, if the issue is to be truly solved, more out of the box thinking must be given value.

This is incredible. The the subject of this Challenge is so fascinating, so very important that everybody would like to have his/her idea to come out the winner. It is not often that non professionals in this field can have their opinion aired to such a wide audience. This subject is reserved normally to the professionals, the builders, the so called experts, not in this Challenge. Everybody is invited. The fight for the first place is splendid, if a little meaningless. Too bad that we do not have the capacity to comprehend the importance of the subject.

I agree. It is sad that the "competitive" spirit has taken so much away from this project. I guess this is a perfect reflection of the world today, marketing wins over reality. However, this challenge has been a good platform for us to find some new thinkers to bring into the development field. I am plan on working with a few people from this contest in the future when creating development proposals. And with some luck we can change the reality so many live in today.

So awesome to think of not only providing low cost housing but secure against cyclones and earthquakes. Watching the living roof survive 6 huge diesel turbines blow 120 mph winds across tiny plants and light poly weave I could see the systems in place with families inside and realized the importance of natural disaster resistance.

But not just security and privacy but low, low tech DIY systems, easily adaptable and allowing for economic & revenue generation on site through agriculture on the walls & roof. Our chickens love the 300 home coop area and act as pest control. Fresh food abounds, water is used and reused.

But most important community is developed. People come together as community with food, selling the luffas they grow on the roof in the market, trading the wine from the grapes for other goods, and more!

Awesome, awesome opportunity to collectively help!

nobody mentioned anything about green roofs or agriculture. you are just shamelessly plugging your personal causes and business interests at the expense of a logical discussion flow.

Teigan's reply is the typical response from the West for third world peoples. The West knows best - take the plastic bottles and bags we send you, fill them with your garbage and build your house with them. Hopefully someday we will listen to others, structures with food and ethnobotanical options integrated into them are part of shelter across the world - unlike the west.

Quimbombo grown as part of the structure gives shade, food, pest control and oxygen.

Our hateful responses to each other reflect our general attitude towards peoples of the world. We know what is best - we don't want to consider your culture, especially if your shelter is comprised of plants - - - .

Pfffff. :)

i'm not sending any plastic bottles . if you woke up you'd know that virtually every country in the world already has plastic beverage bottles. they manufacture them and distribute them locally. you like to think the west is something special, but it isn't.

I also challenge the competitors here to join me in a pledge of open source information for non-profit groups allowing for use of the designs without fee, and donate our winning monies, if any, to building 20 or so of these in a poverty stricken area. I believe in open source of design information, sharing and pledge to do so! We can collectively make a difference!

Sorry, I don't agree. Volunteers can build it but the people supplying the intellectual talent, the designers, engineers, urban planners deserve to be compensated. They are putting more than thier time into this, their reputations are also on the line.

They will probably volunteer on site but if you want use thier designs expect to pay.

You won't be subjected to any liability issues as a volunteer but they could be if their design is flawed.

I selected some constructive remarks that the contestants made about the best entries to this Challenge, I copied and pasted them, randomly, for your enjoyment and perhaps despair. Do not forget that we are dealing with a very serious problem of housing and we are providing the right solutions.

"Beautiful sketches, very elaborate approach!" "straw-bale great idea!" "Not a bad design it is a lovely design!" "this is a good concept !!" "a great job!!" "Very nice idea." "Great idea with those bags!!!!" " Great one! Excellent work." "great sketches and beautiful presentation." "i love the earth bag concept sorry, but this is the same technique i submitted a day before you' ... "Great concept and lovely drawings!" "Hey, this is great idea with really nice presentation." "Good Luck ! Very nice shape" "Modular, eye catching, well presented excellent job sincerely!" "cool 10 i like this design, good job!" "Wonderful concept!" "Great idea! Good luck!" "I am glad you like it, thank you very much!" "Its really a great idea, beautiful house!"

agree, you are 100% right. What you forgot to say is that these are comments made from friends and relatives of the person who submitted the idea, invited to vote for the certain idea.You can spot this by seeing that they usually comment only on 1 idea. It is a very difficult task for the contest guide and i wouldnt want to be in Nathalie's place right now.

Very sad, and not very professional, we are all of us responsible.

Thanks for your sympathy banieramartina :) However, these are NOT just friends and relatives, there are always some supporters, but you all also tend to suspect more than there is - there are a lot of people who are neutral and give honest praise. Thanks for that little collection, JMKO!

Well, I can understand the love of friends, relatives and supporters as it is an open contest, what I don´t understand is so many one idea lovers that also bash tens of others and without leaving any comment.

The scoring system really does suck. I posted one picture... from the internet. My opening comments said NOT AN ENTRY !! I offered NO answers to ANY of the contest breifing questions.

Check the score on Scara Brae. And thanks for the show of support. I know the judges will eliminate it regardless of the score but still. Please read the judging criteria before voting.

@flegido - I don't understand that either, but I know that it will not help them anything as I will take care of them ;)

@billie - you said "I don't put it in as an "idea" per se' but more as a concept to consider", so people considered it as a concept, commented on it and rated it. wait for your final rank before you complain about your good rating.

As a concept for someone else to expand on. i am really glad some people liked it. And I am not really complaining.

But voting should consider all the briefing notes. And I missed a few key questions. The fact it is still rated so high makes us wonder how many others missed the mark by as much as I did, were sincere entries and got 6, 7, 8, scores.

But I know the jury will not consider Scara Brae.

And thanks to everyone who liked the concept.

The fixation on $300.00 is crazy. Even the briefing even admits it might not be realistic. Fact is you need to design a home the client will accept. It needs to empower & give pride. The budget should be the last component & with charitable projects like this the price only determines how hard the fund raisers have to work. Speaking of which no one will donate to a project unless they believe in it.

The winning design is the one which appeals to the tenant. And funding always follows successful projects. Your design has to win over the people who will live in it & those who will fund it.

The price is immaterial.

that's a complete cop out. the cheaper the house the better. people are living day to day not knowing if they will have a place to sleep tomorrow. they don't care what colour the house is or whether it is ecofriendly. they want to survive the unfair world they live in and transition out as soon as possible. the god of cardboard boxes provides them with the $3 house. we need to fill the gap with a $30 house and a $300 house.

There are people right now in North America homeless because the free choices for shelter are worse for them.

Cheap is never a good solution. Affordable is. Affordable means you need to lift them out of poverty. Not just build a new roof.

I've had 30 years of fund raising. And you are way off base teigan.

it all starts with a cardboard box. worship the miracle of the box.

And I thought it started with small bags full of diamonds.

I was wrong on that. If it is charity price is less important than if it is for sale. And this contest is to sell housing so yes, price is factor. But so is product acceptance.

There is no way you can build a house in Germany, ship it to India, and break even. The fact it is for sale & must be a sustainable business makes it that much more important to source everything locally.

give a man a cardboard box and he'll have a home for the night. teach a man to make cardboard boxes and he'll commit suicide.

Design DeBrief - Deciding Winners and Losers:

The $300 House Challenge/s as set forth by Prof Vijay Govindrajan remains promising despite cancellation of the prototype building workshop. As one of the 16 members of the Jury, one week to vote 3 Winners from 300 fantastic submissions and enthusiastic updates.. Everyone concerned (specially the Judges) hopefully have read the given brief first or you would keep wondering (like myself) how these quaint cubicle type designs came about!

The Brief for the 300 House Design Contest with the Mandatory Requirements, Guidelines, Update Comments etc. was brought to my attention only recently, as follows:


The design should meet the following points: • Primarily for tropical and sub-tropical climates. • Minimum living space of about 80 square feet • With an elevated floor. • A roof and at least two walls. Must be completely enclosed by something (eg screens) to keep insects out • Able to survive sustained 110 mph winds. • Able to survive a earthquake measuring 7 on the richter scale. • A well maintained life span of 50 years. • Easy to assemble by a moderately skilled worker.

• Made from readily available materials including but not exclusive to reuse or recycled

All the numbers in this Brief have formidable implications for costs besides a Design and/or a Business Plan. At 110 mph Winds or Earthquake measuring 7 on Richter, most of the modern civic infrastructure would be seriously compromised. Rather these specifications seems opt for Disaster Shelters (to be brought at IKEAs/Home Depots) corresponding to challenge/s as deliberated in $300 House blog by Prof V Govindrajan and Christian Sarkar > consider (IKEA extending) a 5 or 50 year guarantee coverage on anything and how it'd affect the pricing ...

Given this Jury Duty, there are no winners here in my opinion. 300 Submissions in (33% at the last of the) 36 days for $300 House Design Competition; 1-3 minutes on each Entry: 8 to12 Hours of review + several hours of my comments suggesting to ‘consider’ options for your contest entry should hold (regardless my missing the Briefing) keep me posted, we could come out as a winner in the longer run.

Price fixed, fair, appropriate and affordable housing is achievable and its absolutely in the interest of Business, Industry, Institutions, Government, Academic leaders (all ideally working together, NGOs & Charities and so on ) while developing ‘the brief’ with peoples participation- ensuring equitable 'partnerships' with the ‘poor’ from the onset is essential to make the $300 House venture 'sustainable'

-- Architect Makrand Bhoot, AIIA, LEED AP Director -P-A-T-H- Professional Alliance for Technology and Habitat http://www.linkedin.com/pub/makrand-bhoot/b/b36/a41

What is the true living space requirement? The brief on this site says 2.2m x 2.2m which is 44 square feet.

yup, true enough, initially it was 2.2mx2.2m in the mandatory guidelines of the briefing, that is 44 sq.ft. (approx), where from this concept of 80 sq. ft. and elevated floor etc. have come!?!?!

From good reasoning and and respect for the norms. Like it or not the organizers of this Challenge are not the final authority on good practices, standards, norms and regulations in the building industry. All of us, as participants, should have known it, if we were competent in the field.

you are exaggerating to mislead JMKO. 44 square feet would be considered a luxury apartment in major cities around the world. i lived in an apartment half that size when i worked in tokyo.

When was that Teigan? It might be worth reading the new norms.

it is still like that now. and it isn't much better in NYC except there you have roommates as part of a larger space. $1000 a month rent won't buy you much more than space for a small bed. yet people continue to get on with living if you can call it that.

You are right in many of your comments, but I do not think that you have the right audience here.

@Chandrima and bdj108: It´s a nsonne´s comment posted here 29 days ago.

she just relayed the message after consulting with the client. and we have to give her credit for bugging them about specifics on our behalf.

Yes, of course, I agree with you and we also have to thank her the hard work she has with this contest. Anyway, despite the mandatory requirements it seems that a lot of people here didn´t pay too much attention to them and did what they liked.

true, everyone decided for themselves which part/rule of the brief they'll break. i see nothing wrong with that. the result is some houses fit the budget exacly but are quite dangerous, some other are more expensive but tested, some are locally made, other need material to be shipped etc etc. i think this outcome was the most expected :)

more likely it was too late to make drastic concept changes.

think outside the BBB (bottle,bag,box) and you can built an 800 sf luxurv structure for $0.36 per SF


Yes, of course, I agree with you and we also have to thank her the hard work she has with this contest.

Amen !!

There is concern that this contest is going to award a winner based simply on popularity. There are submissions that have been very carefully designed to meet all the criteria as set out in the briefing but are getting lost amongst those submitted by contestants who are chosing to ignore the guidelines. Please be strict in your consideration of the submissions so that this contest can find a house that measures up to the standard that we would all want in a home.

Read the criteria before handing out that 7 rating. If is just a bunch of pretty pictures it is at best a 3 !!

You can go back & change your rating. My UNIDEA, one picture. I never addressed any questions or briefing concerns is still over 6. It should be maybe a less than 2. Actually it should be 0.00

adam002, i completely agree with you. This competition has gone off on a tangent of graphics, popularity, & extreme dreams. I hope to God that IR sees beyond these things, but I think the client will not be too happy with the myriad of non-architectural results. In layman's terms, it sucks.

Well now I see that Nsonne did post something along the lines of the changes to the breif. I guess many of us did not see that since these changes were not made to the breif like the update that was made to the official brief on May 23. Not a big deal for my project as we are very close to this size already and to add the 45cm to get there will not change our budget enough to put us over. I also agree that Nsonne has done a wonderful job.

@adam002~ So perfectly well put. This has been a very frustrating contest to watch, especially since a large majority of the projects do not remotely meet the requirements. It's wonderful to be idealistic and creative, but my understanding was that this contest aimed to find a true, immediate and buildable solution to gentrify slums. Idealism is not a workable short-term solution.

Hopefully, the jury will find a way to realign the projects that meet the requirements and those who don't. As of now, this is indeed a contest of popularity and the laymen are the ones rating and selecting the potential winner(s). How does make sense when we are looking to address a global problem, one that can only be solved with solutions put forward by experienced technical professionals?

I believe that Jovoto is the wrong format to look to select viable options for this very noble project.

Economical housing is a goal I have pursued for several years now and always end up Frustrated. This sometimes can expose the truth, in this case, the math is the problem. The $300 figure will only buy what $300 will buy and this will vary depending where on earth you are building, think about it.

@ergodesk, there are no magic solutions, besides why do we think that we are the ones who will get it right, now, immediately . All we can do is advance, a little.

The ones who can better the lives of anyone are precisely the ones who need it themselves. We can only help and it will make it easier if we can also hope.

this contest took things backward by spreading misinformation and reinforcing popular misconceptions.

If you are still not convinced, send me a e-mail and I will send you dimensioned plans for a $300 structure and a possible insulated version.

So many great ideas beyond the $300.00 home. A fabulous contest.

Thanks to everyone participating. Thanks to jovoto for providing the forum. Thanks to nsomme for being such a positive force.

No doubt the top 20 deserve to be the top 20!! Even the bottom 20 contributed great ideas, food for thought. Congratulations everyone.

Never forget There but for the grace of god go I.

I have known lawyers & doctors who died homeless. Even one Olympic Torch Carrier.

Immediate short sell. Builder went over budget. Your gain at $300 cash. Take over lien on property.

Charming cottage style, 1 BDRM attached home with great curb appeal. Lovingly built by previous owner now deceased. Spacious 80 sq. ft. mixed use floorplan. New plumbing (50 year warranty.) and new electrical (ready for solar panel system on roof). Able to survive 110mph winds, 7.0 richter scale earthquakes, and giant space monsters. Shared amenities including courtyard and rustic crap hole. Dirt floor has been recently cleaned. 100% new dirt in earth bags. Bamboo accents throughout house. Excellent schools. Minutes from historic road. Land title not included. Don't miss this opportunity. Serious buyers only.

Call Mr. Jovoto

The data relating to real estate in this contest is derived in part from the $300 House Multiple Listing Services, Inc. program. Brokers make an effort to deliver accurate information, but buyers should independently verify any information on which they will rely in a transaction. All properties are subject to prior sale, change or withdrawal. Neither the representing agent nor any listing broker shall be responsible for any typographical errors, ignorance, misinformation, outright lies, or misprints, and they shall be held totally harmless from any damages or injuries or deaths arising from reliance upon this data. This data is provided exclusively for consumer’s personal, non-commercial use and may not be used for any purpose other than to identify prospective properties they may be interested in purchasing. ©Copyright 2011 $300 House Listing Services, Inc.

gwahahaha -im prutty sure the bamboo accents is a jab on my design. but seriously,there are USD 10K+ luxury bamboo huts sold,and thats not including the price of flying the skilled carpenter to customers country.

so no,dirt and bamboo dont belong in the same group. but my chicken wire,cmu,and corrugated roof are open for puns.

I've seen the entries ranked 50-300, and I thought that they should be evaluated again by the community because many of these entries have great potential. I find it sad that the architectural profession has been taken for granted, and has not given proper recognition and respect. Architectural design competitions are not conceptualized as a 'means to sell products' for the market. Thorough research and knowledge about architecture and engineering should be done.

Design competitions like this should be evaluated by experts and not just by random people or supporters because not all of them understand what the essence of spatial design is. I'm afraid if some of the entries in the higher ranks won the prizes, they would think that their entry is justified and think that it's really easy to build a structure without much effort and only based in perfect theories.

I'll leave my evaluation about this challenge with an article from one of the community members in Jovoto. This is from The New York Times.


nice article. thanx for sharing , they are right though, the people who are supposed to live in the designed house should be the most important judge here :)

And if we build any of these homes.... they will be.

Given that article the most realistic entry is Slum Shop.

or any scheme proposing a rather smaller footprint, flexible infill-housing typo sort. it's faster, relatively easy so can be deployed quickly infilling within existing settlements. i agree w the article i dont find wiping off existing settlements lets-start from tabula rasa-make-a-new town approach very realistic. i understand Kingfish's concerns on the difference between an architect's v. a product designer's approach to this problem but part of this model is based on making this an attractive option for R&D and industries to invest in and create a potential market (this is not just a temporary charitable house building project and let's be honest without vested interests and a return nothing lasts for too long) building affordable housing is nothing new, has a long history but i find this one an interesting approach so i'd keep an open mind to it. :)

The article might have been written before they really looked at the entries and options, but a major part of the requirement was that it was able to be locally produced and sourced.

I think they had a preconceived notion on the designs and results.

There are several designs (mine included) here that use locally sourced materials, local workers, and labor of the home owner/builder to complete. Most of the good ones do. And while a house might be worth $3000, the cost of materials was lower.

The best designs here in my not so humble use all the resources they outlined and woudl produce a house that could go for allot more then shown.

Hopefully they will re-visit their conclusions.

In reply to the New York Times article quoted above, I don't think that the survivors of the Tsunami, Hurricane Katrina or the earthquake in Haiti want to suffer another day in a tent.. There ARE people who would like to have a home immediately. We have the technology to provide them with a safe, secure, comfortable place to live, so let's stop talking and start building!

One thing teigan made me realize:

Some/most of these designs involve a persons time. But the value of the house after it is setup will be more then the materials in it. In the case of re-sale or otherwise you are adding value to the area, value to the land, and value to the local micro economy.

This value can be turned over to help those who built the house move upwards. Take one of the house designs, add to it as they can, then move into something with a bit more value later. This can be, alone, the upward movement process that can help allot of people succeed.

or rent it out (in the initial phases), it would be hilarious if they could rent the houses to the middle class (now that's reverse innovation /engineering) check out the last part of the article below posted in the 300$ blog "...where the government built housing for the urban poor, but local people prefer to rent out the housing rather than live in it... "


just a thought but the poor guy who wrote the article is complaining about the houses not serving their original purposes, so what? what's wrong w setting up a side income (ok i'm not saying illicit businesses)? he doesnt seem to see the business potential and revenue stream that can be generated -which in turn can aid the upgrading of their own homes or who knows once they achieve a certain social status they can move back to the houses. Slum dwellers are saavy street smart, with their own sophisticated social network, why resist it?use it.

He misses a big point, I let him know. :)

On that note, you are right - this is a way to turn the area into a means of generating income - look at the market that is on the railway in India. If we can layout some basic options for solid house building the market will find a way to be built and ran.

If the house can be expanded to a larger one, or upgraded, there are many ways several of the designs can be expanded into full houses. Shoot, my idea is just the opposite, I took a current house design and pared it down to be super cheap.

when people build their own houses, they void any warranty. and when the roof collapses killing entire families, the idiot "designer" has no legal liability, getting away with murder.

pbjosh just say that you can swap cement for earth or clay add geopolymer (today's innovative addition part), would become a new cob-contruction method. something that's been used for year but innovated- reverse engineered. you're on track. teigan, yup i know i'm an architect, that's why we architects are poor and product designers rich ;-)

Yeah teigan, the slum dwellers are so worried about the warranty they currently have running out.

You have been such a great insulter/devil in this process, you should be able to come up with a better flaw then a bad warranty. It seem so obscure and irrelevant.

People can build their own home that is solid. They do all the time.

Just an FYI, the house design I proposed has standing versions that have lasted over a thousand years. They meet US building standards, and are rated better then a normal stick house for fire resistance and work in high snow load areas. There is no reason that the house as designed couldn't last as long, short of an upgrade to the roof, which would fit in the budget just fine.

Most of us were smart enough not to design a roof that would fall, nor one heavy enough to kill everybody inside. It should be obvious if that was a flaw.

in some cases it is the heavy walls rather than the heavy roof, but the occupants still die and you as the underqualified "architect" have no legal financial responsibility.

Well, damn good thing the design I put up there has lasted for centuries. And is a proven building concept. So are most of the heavy walled systems.

while i admit i have no longer have interest in looking at your concept, did you specify proper grading and site preparation? if not, your walls will collapse after the first rain.

I accounted for a concrete pad, 6" thick with footers and connection points between the walls and the pad. I did not detail everything, I only had 2 days to do this.

okay. that's a worthy effort better than some of the morons specifying 2" slabs, but in reality you should have included a plot plan graded away from the slab and trenches with drain tiles. a slab is only as good as the ground prep.

2.2mx2.2m = 4.84 sq meters or 52.01 square feet by any scale even at 80 square feet a house is subhuman

it isn't so bad. in a way it's cozy. and it isn't as if you are locked in or chained to a post. don't forget you can also lay on the roof like snoopy does.

I think of it as 50 sqft per person. 200-300 sqft per family. Maybe 1000 sqft plus for an extended family including kitchen & maybe bath.

I kinda goofed, and did mine on a 240sf house (12'x20')- for 4 or more.

But I used to live in a 16'x24' log cabin. And later we had some guest houses at our lodge that were 14'x2'4 that slept 4 and had a kitchen. Not to mention the 10'x12' canvas wall tent I have lived in for some summers with my brother.

80sf might be small, but it is something, and I have lived close to that often.

Note: That was 5 of us (2 parents, 3 kids) in the log cabin, in Alaska, no running water (hauled from a lake or melted snow) and a wood stove made from a 55 gallon drum.

I wrote on these pages 19 days ago,

Quote ", I have not read a single comment all this time, from anyone who will have to live the rest of his life in the type of SHELTERS we are proposing.", Unquote.

Little did I know that it would appear later on the New York Times Column as a cheap shot at this JOVOTO Challenge. It is Called Plagiarism in journalistic terms and it is not the sign of honest writings.

I wrote this not because I expected anyone from the slums to have enough time or concern to take us seriously, I wrote it simply as a reminder for us that we have to keep in mind the end user.

It could be that the Participant are not professionals in the field, it could also be true that we are all greedy a little, but we have all invested many hours of work and consideration to sustain this Challenge. We did not deserve this high handed slur from Mr. Mathias ECHAVOVE and Rahul SRIVASTAVA.

it isn't a slur or a plagarism. the people you so quickly scorn repeatedly go to the third world and build houses for the underprivileged. they have every right to criticise on behalf of the poor to whom they have been genuinely charitable.

I don't see a high handed slur. I read reality in that article.

From day one I have been critical of the notion we think we can design without meeting the client. But as a forum I have gained & learned a great deal. There have been presentations of building tehniques, answers to cultural & social issues, a few explorations into infrastructure & some intriging ways to engage the economy of those in poverty.

That article nailed the problem. And it has been expressed by many in this contest. But it in no way is a slap in anyones face.

I would hope that everyone realizes this is just a contest. Reality involves walking in with a blank sheet of paper & an open mind if you want to design something which might be actually built.

Well I do too. I also know that the slums will not disappear because the Slum Dwellers will rise up one day and change their way of life and build new homes just like the way we tell them. The Slums will disappear, just the way they did in London, Paris, Budapest and many other Cities worldwide, because the are dangerous, unhealthy and are a nuisance to society as a whole.

It can also be seen that they had a pre-conceived idea as to the outcome. They figured they knew what the houses looked like/would be finished as.

I would say they did even worse then slur: They judged without investigating, came to ignorant conclusions, and wrote away as if they had the knowedge alone.

I hope they re-visit their conclusions, and update the article. I doubt it will happen though.

if you read the article again you will see they are more critical of the parameters set in the brief. the mechanism they suggest made the entries bad is the brief itself. so stop being butthurt over it.

They made conclusions based on the brief, you are right. They did not make conclusions based on the entries. They did not make conclusions by talking to anybody involved. They did start off by saying that it will all be wrong. In the end, they are quite wrong, come to ignorant conclusions, but try to parade themselves as wise.

Not butthurt, I am far above an article in a newspaper being able to raise a temper. I will call them on being shallow in trying to find fault before proof, to look more intelligent by tearing others down.

As I will call you. Do you sympathize with them because you do the same thing?

no. i sympathise with them because what you and i are doing in this contest, they do as a continued commitment. until you are willing to make the same kind of commitment, you have no right to call them ignorant.

While a negative criticism can help a project along, standing on the side declaring it failed before launch doesn't help either.

And yes, ignorant is a perfect word. Ignorant means not knowing. They don't know what the process here is, nor are they involved. They may know India, but that doesn't mean they know the concepts being tried here.

I can't write about India, I am ignorant. I am ignorant about alot. So I don't go around calling things failures, especially without getting more involved.

By judging the contest a failure without being involved they do not help this process along, nor help the people who would be involved produce a better end result.

They have the PERFECT expertise to be involved here. They have exactly the type of guiding knowledge that can help. But what did they do? Judge it without helping it along.

They should be jumping up and down at the oppertunity to help and guide. They should be bringing people to the contest by linking to it, passing on wisdom, and challenging their readers.

They didn't.

are you unable to read the date of their article? they didn't make conclusions at the beginning of the contest as you keep stating. they made their conclusions near the end of the contest.

and if you had done the suggested reading at the beginning of the contest, you'd already know that the people you are insulting have been supporting the $300 house from the start. they even took some of your fellow contest participants on a trip to india.

From the NYT article the general gist I got from the article was: There is no use in even trying, the only answer is that there is no answer.

I guess the author is just upset and criticizing the fac that we tried.

We tried, so sue us.

what good is an answer if we don't know the question?

Let me clarify this: I have no beef with the people writing the article, but while they COULD help in the process, like Zerooks said, they said there is no use in anybody even trying.

It is obvious if you look at the ideas contained in the contest here they are being misrepresented by the authors. And dismissed for no good reason, without investigation.

There is always an answer. This whole contest is the question: Can it be done?

I see several yes answers - an answer to a question something the people who wrote the article said it wasn't even worth asking.

The question was worth asking. No matter who the authors are.

yeah guys relax, no need to take ourselves so seriously, argument over slight semantic differences. we're all doing fine no need to get all weepy mellow and guilty or feel plagiarised (?!) in our comments or by entering a speculative ideas competition instead of doing something out there in real time. it all adds up. the more brains the better. what NYT is saying is valid and on the spot but nothing new either. i quickly googled them out of curiosity, they're all cool guys noble intentions as all of us.

New Delhi-based Micro Homes Solutions: established by a group of ivy MBAs, nothing different from the 300$ initiative

Matias Echanove and Rahul Srivastava co-founders of the Institute of Urbanology: a think-tank. bloggers basically organizing how to build technical workshops proponents of incremental housing development within the context of the slums. Again nothing new, there are several schemes in this comp. proposing incremental developments (i.e. by Sprawl), infill-able light strcutures (ie by Kingfish et al), and workshops geared to residents (Slum Shop scheme)

One note: they havent built anything physical yet, anything physical is always prone to be the subject of criticism as it is tangible and material.

On lack of safety codes and liability: I agree Teigan :), hence the merit in some schemes that introduce a certain level of pre-fab aspect or stadardisation. pre fab can be done on site (i.e. like your own bottle house scheme or countless others)not necessarily off shore . this could serve as a makeshift code through 'design-construction-how to-guidelines' still allowing for flexibility/adaptability

$300 House Design Flow Chart

Concept Design (We are at this point) Prototype Pilot Project Redesign Pilot Project II Implementation

The $300 house design is only at the beginning of the design process. The concept stage created the mandatory requirements. These requirements are loose and are only a starting point for the design of the $300 house. This allowed us to come up with over 300 different building concepts. Everyone has their own opinion of which house designs are better. There is a list of judges and advisors who will evaluate the designs and pick their two choices along with the top 3 choices to prototype. I have worked on new engineering designs and you never know exactly what the customer wants until you show them concepts. We are at this point in the design phase; it’s time to show the customer different options. The customer may like a couple different designs or none at all. The customer may like one building concept but have a different floor plan than provided; this is the design process. Even at the end of the project they may change their minds and want different features. There are at least five different stages between now and the implementation where changes can be made from input from the customer in the house design process. Again this is only the beginning of the design process.

some of the "designs" are doomed to fail and are a waste of everyone's time. for example, you can't fill a burlap bag or a plastic bag with magic home brew concrete and expect it to stay in the intended shape or even stay in the bag. at least in those types of problems will be evident at the prototype stage. but others will fail unexpectedly at a later stage and the damages will be multiplied by the number of units built. there will be substantial financial loss too which will devastate the local economy and discourage further outside investment.

The concrete did stay in the bag and in the intended shape in the first prototype.

that's funny because i see photos of mishapen irregular columns, some only half poured for some reason. you do realise concrete must be even thickness or stress fractures happen at the thin points right? hilarious.

First prototype does have some issues, but at least I tried to create a prototype instead of just drawing cartoons. Windows are the reason the columns are half poured.

Is there any way I can submit my $300 house or is it to late?

take it to the $300 house blog. you can't win any money, but that was the main problem with this contest. it attracted all the bottom feeders whose only interest was the lure of easy money.

And there is no use building any of these designs because we have not been to the site we have not met the clients we have no idea how they live we have no idea what materials are available we have ....

Well that was what I got from the article. Everyone here is designing a new Edsel.

The contest is a great forum but it sure is not going to result in a successful design.

The Edsel was a marque of car manufactured by the Ford Motor Company during the 1958, 1959, and 1960 model years. The Edsel never gained popularity with contemporary American car buyers and sold poorly. Consequently, the Ford Motor Company lost millions of dollars on the Edsel's development, manufacture, and marketing. The name "Edsel" has since become synonymous with failure.

Billie, submissions for this competition have come from all over the world, including from people who have lived their whole lives in Africa. They have vast experience with what the sites look like, who they are building for and what materials are available, Unfortunately, designs are being judged on popularity and not necessarily on quality or feasibility.

Net Zero Housing for Elderly -Put the pensioners in jail and the criminals in a nursing home.

Millions of seniors get cold food, be left all alone and unsupervised, Lights off at 8pm, and showers once a week. Live in a tiny room and pay £600.00 per week and have no hope of ever getting out.

This way the pensioners would have Private, secure rooms for all, access to showers, Simple clothing, shoes, slippers, PJ's and legal aid would be free, on request.They'd receive unlimited free prescriptions, dental and medical treatment, wheel chairs etc and they'd receive money instead of paying it out.

Bedding would be washed twice a week, and all clothing would be ironed and returned to them. A guard would check on them every 20 minutes and bring their meals and snacks to their cell. There would be a board of directors to hear complaints, and the guards would have a code of conduct that would be strictly adhered to.

Each senior cluster could have a PC a TV radio and daily phone calls. They would have access to a library, weight room, spiritual counseling, pool and education.They would have constant video monitoring, so they could be helped instantly, if they fell, or needed assistance...hobbies and walks with an exercise outdoor yard, with gardens and they would have family visits in a suite built for that purpose.

With only some concern for senior citizen, great difference for humanity...

I couldnt finish my idea before because of my uni and work.. but even if its late.. i feel happy of finish it..!! for all that wants, you could see it here..


Amazing - I got 15 ratings all at the same time and dropped 160 places - is this what you call trolling? I'm new to the process.

This challenge will discredit Jovoto. The model is flawed for this type of challenge. And it's a snakepit. Most entries do not meet the requirements and are still in top stop. It's a popularity contest at best.

Obviously if at the last day of judging you fall 160 places after holding a consistent rating - all with one batch of ratings at one time there is something going on. :)

Kevin same happened to me went from 17 to 201!

No this is not a popularity contest at all, it is a contest of who van outwit whom. Will JOVOTO buy it, we shall see.

I have a lot of faith in the jury. Just check their bios. They aren't about to treat it as a popularity contest. Every one of them have years of experience.

Regardless of the ratings, first you have to answer the briefing questions.

you're clueless. seems more than half the jury took one look at the sea of moronic ideas and abandoned ship not wanting to be associated with such a farce. 3/4 of them never left one comment or rating.

Jovoto set the MANDATORY REQUIREMENTS, the first one, the $300 limit can not be respected by anyone, in spite of all the pious declarations. The 50 years + was taken as a joke by most, or it seems, yet this is the one that should make the difference. The 50 years + could have been respected by everyone.

I'm amazed by the discussions that are still happening here. I can say it was a fantastic contest - controversial of course, be it the 1976230 different opinions within the contest platform or the strongly varying feedback published outside of the platform (NYT etc.). I think most of us agree that we've come to gather a number of really great designs that are very feasible and apt to change some slum dwellers' lives. However, the bigger ideas that arose with the contest, the conversations, the people that came to this platform and started networking, the possible future corporations beyond this contest... now THAT is the greatest and most intriguing outcome of the contest IMHO and the reason why they are wrong when they say "the $300 house will fail as a social initiative" - THANK YOU to everyone again who participated and invested that much effort, passion and time in this project. 2 more days and we will know about the winners, thx for your patience and good luck to everyone!

nice speech IMHOtep, but are we in denial? the amount of networking happening is no indication of how much useful progress has been made; in fact networking usually creates false impressions. any conversations were fouled by an unsurmountable ethnocentricity held by the majority. the contest results are uninteresting because as the leaders won't admit, rank is based on aggressive social networking rather than merit. currently, the $300 house project has an unsustainable business model where no tangible products or services are being sold. upper tier investors will make a profit, but at the community level, there will be a net loss because someone conveniently factored in their labour as free. this is a form of pyramid scheme.

Labor is the investment that turns $300 of materials into a tangable house, worth far more then the materials. It actually increases value of the slums from worthless to. This is will do exactly opposite of what you say. Like taking a piece of wood and carving a pot, beating a piece of metal into a tool this process gives many the abilty to make something raw into something of value.

That is entire point of this contest!

you have no concept of basic business principles. don't take my word for it. describe your plan to your local bank manager and you'll give the staff there a good laugh.

Funny, I have ran several businesses before, my family has been running a business for over 29 years, since I was a child, and the last time I took a business plan to the bank he said:

"In the 17 years of doing business banking this is the best business plan I have ever seen."

When taken to SCORE, investment guiding group, he said that he has never seen a more prepared presentation. This was for a business plan related to the patent I hold.

No teigan, you are the big laugh here. Your pessimism is so disconnected with reality it is hilareous.

And I am one of the few who has lived in conditions similar to this. 16x24 log cabin, 10x12 wall tent, middle of nowhere, no running water, wood heat, off the grid. My toys came from the dumpster, I have lived in areas you can only get to by boat or plane equipped to land on a chunk of dirt or sand, with brutal winters, chopping wood in -20 weather so we can keep from freezing.

My 'Plan' as presented here took me 2 days to write up because I only found out about this presentation in the last few days. I did this while working 12 hour days at the regular job designing power plants, and going home to a bunch of kids and a pregnant wife.

I nailed the budget. I nailed all the requirements. It can be build in every way possible. And it has a thousand year history.

I helped several people here get a ball park when they couldn't or didn't. I have helped others expand their ideas and concept, helped them be viable.

I have pulled myself up from the poverty, while not close to the slums, the cousin of it. I have a great career, a business I am starting up, a house, a family and I am sucessful.

I am exactly an example of the potential of this program. Of the potential of every person who we can help along this way. And I do it as I always have done, by helping those around me, always learning in the process.

poorly written, yet still an autobiography book. you are obviously mad. if you had any valid points, you wouldn't need to parade personal background information to qualify your arguments. that's is not proper rhetoric. you are too angry to discuss this at present. so cool down and message me when you can be somewhat logical.

Ha ha ha! I am far from mad - BUT:

If you are going to say I have "no concept of business principles" it is a comment about my person, your point being that the "I" is lacking. So bringing up my experience IS the valid point, since that is what you challenged. I couldn't make a point about my person without doing it.

So, yes, when you make a comment on a persons "Idea", and they should respond with "Ideas." When you a comment on a person, they can defend with their experience.

okay. glad you aren't as mad now. but you really don't seem to understand that you need cost sheets for any product. if it costs you more to make it than you are selling it for then you shouldn't be making that product. and if you can buy it for less than you can make it then you do so. never should you calculate with anybody's time as free. even slaves cost money to house and feed. hope you learned something. maybe if someone had taught your family this, you wouldn't have been so poor.

Cost sheets? Where did that come from?

I understand cost sheets, that is major part of the day job. You seem to make allot of assumptions about me, consistant in how wrong they are. I won't even dignify the reason we were 'poor' or anything. Cost sheets wouldn't have done anything. Just, wow. (Shakes head)

But FYI: considering that the pay for people who are in slums averages $2 a day, and it would take 1-2 days for somebody to build mine, less for others - the average cost is $4, or about 1-2%. Shoot, make it $10, double pay. :) Still such a small percentage. While is should be a factor, since most people didn't make the budget, it is a very small factor.

The project does say in the guidelines:

"•Self-built or self-improvable, because that both lowers the cost and works to reduce the potential for corruption capturing donor aid. •Low-tech, because we want the slum dwellers themselves to build or improve or expand their house, as this will generate income for them and reduce the risk of value capture by landlords and rent-seekers."

I think it would be safe to say that the ones who set up this contest expected the home owner to build the house and use that effort to produce something that is worth more then the effort put in. Value added, as it were.

i made no assumptions. you are willing to sell people's time as free as evidenced in your own project idea. you are making the end user eat the cost of your losses. that's not good business. because a real business plan is sustainable. at best you have a quick ditch scheme and no reputable bank will back it because of unpredictable risk.

You assumed my family was poor because we didn't understand cost sheets. You assumed we didn't understand cost sheets.

I am not selling time as free, I am placing the time as invested in their own project. When buying an IKEA piece of furniture the time to put it together is not part of the cost but removed from the price. That is why it is affordable.

It would be hard to argue that IKEA is not sustainable because the end product has to be put together by the purchaser.

I am not selling an idea to a bank. This is not a business. It doesn't need a bank. This is a house people can build for stupid cheap, on their own, not needing a bank. I don't profit. There is no losses. I am not selling anything. I am not sure how I could ditch anything, since there is nothing I hold.

if ikea sells a $300 piece of furniture. it makes damned sure it can be quickly assembled. otherwise the consumer is better off buying the $400 piece of furniture. your house did not quickly assemble with a hex key, so it can't be compared with the IKEA business model. and stop crying about your family. the have walmarts just like every other state, and the cost of living is reasonable considering alaska is among the highest ranked economies in america. plus the government pays every resident a dividend for oil revenue, and they don't have to lift a finger for that free money. if you still can't make a good living then you have some learning to do, and the sooner you admit that the sooner your life will improve. the poverty stricken of the world aren't lucky enough to be in a booming place like alaska. if you were poor in alaska, then a person in bangladesh is going to politely decline your offer to teach them life skills.

If we find a TRUE $300 design here, then we should tackle a cure for CANCER next.

Agreed! In spite of winning or not, we were so involved in this contest that we will certainly work further to make it come true – that's the contest main goal, make us think possibilities, make us think about poor people dignity. We've grown up in a city that has around 1000 favelas/slums communities, pledged by violence, lack of sewage, lack of ventilation, terrible transportation, bad school quality and all sorts of ilnesses. We live in one of most unequal countries in the world that has spent billions of dollars on housing project that terribly failed. Whoever saw City of God knows what we are talking about, the neighborhood was created as a housing project, far from the center, from the jobs, from good schools, etc.... The matter is not exactly how to create a house under 300 USD, althought we proposed it in order to fit on the contest criteria. We proposed a solution that costs about this value on materials, but its obvious that if we take labor and transportation costs, the value will be over 300. What we want is to create a discussion of what works and doenst and mobilize people for the housing cause. We case some beautiful cases of people working on this subject, as the NGO "Un Techo para mi pais", for example, that does a beatiful job making cheap wood houses for the poor, even for a value much higher than 300 USD. But we still need some big action from governments and the society as a whole, and our hope is that this contest might create this discussion. We believe we can makle people get out of poverty by making them live in better conditions and giving dignity to then. We hope that the discution will go much beyond the popularity of the projects!

All the best,

Leo Froes and Vitor Pereira

Hi, all, this contest was a great motivation for us to accelerate the development of our concept. Actually, we missed just 1 or 2 days to complete building a prototype. However it is almost ready and a video of whole building process (just 3 minutes!) is on youtube now - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJ9qDPaGp9o We enjoyed the process. Thank you, $300 House community for inspiration. And give us a good rating if you like our idea and you haven’t done it, yet. Our rank was jumping up and down between 8 to 50, sometimes within few minutes time... But we hope to stay on the first page.. :-)

wishing a good luck to everybody! Rozemar (artursr)

Hey Artur, cool design and video. I hope you stay in top 3 !

Yep, very cool.

Well crafted. But are your skills common. What you guys built is beyond the skills of most Journeymen Carpenters let alone the rest of us.

Entertaining though & really cool.

This Challenge has brought together some 400 of so people who know how to draw and how to make sketches and importantly, they were informed about this Challenge in time, so that they were able to participate. There are many more out there, with equal or superior skills, who were not informed about it.

The participants have worked hard and have presented some stunning ideas. It was an exceptional learning experience

I only regret that we had little, or no respect, for the other ideas, we went for the kill. Winning was the only goal.

So let us not be overly self-righteous and jubilant if we obtained a good score and let us be noble in spirit if we did not. The winning idea is the one that gets built.

you can't speak for everyone. check the last pages and you'll find the people who played fair.


Ich habe mir in den letzten Wochen viele Gedanken gemacht, wie man ein günstiges Haus für Slumbewohner bauen kann.

Folgende wichtige Eckpunkte sollten meiner Meinung nach umgesetzt werden:

  • Grundriss: Auf keinen Fall einen runden Grundriss, da ungenutzte Fläche zwischen den einzelnen Häusern entsteht. Der beste Grundriss ist meiner Meinung nach ein Hexagon, der zweitbeste Grundriss ein Rechteck. Runde oder achteckige Grundrisse würden den zur Verfügung stehenden Platz nicht ausfüllen – die Folge wären nutzlose Hohlräume. viereckige oder gar dreieckige Grundrisse würden dagegen mehr Baumaterial erfordern. Aus diesem Grund werden sechseckige Formen auch in der Technik eingesetzt, etwa um Konstruktionen zu stabilisieren. Mit dem Hexagon ist es möglich lückenlos anreihbaren Häuser zu bauen, außerdem haben sechseckige Häuser das beste Verhältnis von Wandmaterial zu Volumen. Durch den Grundriss wird das Haus sehr stabil. Der Grundriss des Hexagon fördert auch eine Dorfgemeinschaft - mehr Informationen siehe Idee.

  • Bauweise: In einer Fabrik vorgefertigte Häuser bitten gleibhbleibende hohe Qualität. Fehler werden vermieden. Die Bewohner müssen das Haus selbst zusammenbauen (IKEA-System). Die Häuser werden in einem Flat-Pack geliefert (geringes Transportvolumen). Durch den Zusammenbau des Hauses bekommen die Hausbauer ein Erfolgserlebnis.

  • Baustoff: Der Baustoff sollte aus einem billigen Material hergestellt werden, dazu eignet sich in meinen Augen z.B. Altpapier oder Plastikabfall. Dieses soll gesammelt werden, aufbereitet und in eine smarte, starken Form gebracht werden. In eine panel-Form, z.B. Honeycomb-Panels. Gebäuden aus Earthbag sind destruktiv, da Erde in Slums nicht vorhanden ist. Dicke Wände kostbaren Boden verbrauchen....

  • Dach: Das Dach sollte nutzbar sein -> Flachdach z.B. um es zu begrünen, Wasser zu sammeln, als Terasse zu nutzen und die möglichkeit ein 2. Stockwerk aufzustocken. Ein Dachfenster in der mitte des Daches gibt Licht und Luft und funktioniert auch gleichzeitig als Uhr. Durch die Tür gelangt Frischluft, die Abluft entweicht durch das Dachfenster - ein nützliches Ventilationssystem. Später kann das Dachfenster genutzt werden um vom Erdgeschoss in das 1. OG zu gelangen, per Wendeltreppe.

Diese wichtige Eckpunkte habe ich versucht in meiner Idee umzusetzen. Mehr Informationen unter meiner Ideen.

Ich fand die Idee als große Herausforderung, da in der heutigen Zeit 300 Dollar nicht wirklich viel ist.

Ich hoffe das ich mit meinen Ideen ein wenig dazu beitragen konnte ein Haus für 300 Dollar zu entwerfen und wünsche das beste für das 300-

Dollar-Hause-Projekt. Ich hoffe das die beste Idee umgesetzt wird und den Slumbewohner eine positive Veränderung in Ihrem Leben gibt.

Danke, an alle. :-)

THE LAST WORDS ( Just a quick google translation :-))

I made me over the past weeks, many thoughts on how to build a cheap house for slum dwellers.

The following significant milestones to be accomplished in my opinion:

  • Floor plan: Never use a circular plan because unused space created between the houses. The best plot is, in my opinion, a hexagon, the second best plan is a rectangle. Round or octagonal floor plans would not fill the available space - the result would be useless voids. square or even triangular floor plan would require more building material, however. For this reason, hexagonal shapes are also used in the art, such as to stabilize structures. With the hexagon, it is possible to build completely mounting utilizing houses, also have a six wall houses the best ratio of wall material to volume. Through the plan, the house is very stable. The layout of the Hexagon promotes a community - for more information see idea.

  • Construction: In a factory prefabricated houses ask gleibhbleibende high quality. Errors. The residents need to assemble the house itself (IKEA system). The houses are delivered in a flat pack (low transport volume). By assembling the Home builders get a sense of achievement.

  • Building: The building materials should be made of cheap materials, as suitable, for example in my eyes Waste paper or plastic waste. This is to be collected, processed and placed in a smart, strong form. In a panel-form, for example Honeycomb panels. Earthbag buildings are destructive, because soil in slums do not exist. Thick walls consume precious floor ....

  • Roof: The roof should be used -> flat roof for example to green to collect water to use as a terrace and the possibility of a 2nd Floor increase. A skylight in the middle of the roof is light and air, and also works as a clock. Through the door get fresh air, the air escapes through the skylight - powerful ventilation system. Later, the roof windows are used to from the ground floor in the first to get OG, per spiral staircase.

This important key points I have tried in my idea into practice. More information at my ideas.

I found the idea as a challenge, since in today's $ 300 not much.

I hope I could with my ideas a little help to design a house for $ 300 and wish the best for the 300 - Dollar home project. I hope the best idea is implemented and the slum dwellers are a positive change in your life.

Thank you all. :-)

thx for your thoughts on circular plans-i may agree Wenn der Architekt nichts weiss, macht er einen Kreis.

on hexagons and pentagons and octagons, yes always good to revisit bucky fuller and others, but a house is never entirely built out of a perfect rational recipe. hence the saying goes 'a helthy dosis of skepticism comes handy before accepting a commission to build your client's dream house'. best wishes!

If so many people are ready to spend so much time and efforts (that means - money) to show up here - there must be something in there. Almost each idea represents weeks (if not months) of work - multiply with 299... Some ideas are supported by extensive research, some - with days and nights of rendering, some have built prototypes, some are building their $x houses for poor, already. I am wondering has JOVOTO experienced such high level of investment from participants in other contests up till now? I hope there will be a continuation of this $xHouse initiative (may be another contest) to find out the most efficient way how to make real solutions out of ideas, how to get these solutions working.

Shelter without water and food is not sustainable. Building structures without integrating food, fowl & water will be long term derelict and transient. We should learn from our previous generations.

Kevin and eveyone food and shelter need to go together read this link from Al Gore http://blog.algore.com/2011/06/fascinating_article_in_the_new.html

Architecture is living - animal, vegetable and not just mineral. Integration of plant, animal & water into structure not only creates viable shelter but economy and community. MobiusArchitecture is absolutely correct and the NYT article is excellent.

I agree kevinsonger. Additonally, I think fully developed living systems will be problematic to build inside a slum culture. If we simply allow ourselves the possibilty of relocation away from the cities we can build all kinds of self sustainable structures such as yours and mine, in a supportive and ecological village model.

and encourage sprawl in otherwise fine virgin lands?! :) no thx. our pot smoking peace loving baby boomer gen parents have tested many such proj Eden(s), florida New Urbanist idyllic towns wont work either. Hopefully we're looking at micro urbanisms, strategic intervention guerrilla type projects that can work from and within the slums & make them better over time. good luck! :)

bocita's wisdom is why we have dead Urban concrete & stormwater problems now - However we can improve! We Must bring plants, animals and water back into architecture. Create economies and communities, growing food on walls and roofs - not in community gardens - this is a capitalistic approach - community gardens do not work as well. Once your home is producing 200 lbs grapes annually you have economy, make wine and you have more economy, same with peppers, luffa and more. The beauty of living architecture is 1. insulation - sound and heat, 2. clean & attenuate stormwater, 3. Integrated pest management, 4. biodiversity 5. sense of place, 6. Sequester carbon, 7 produce o2 and clean air and so much more. The areas we are proposing to put these structures are already primary nature based cultures - we cannot keep on with the same West knows all concrete approach - as I've said before - most of these areas are already fringe wetlands - There is no extra dirt. I would much live in an 800sf living architecture designed home than in a 200sf dark, depressive hot box. We must integrate nature into our structures or the structures will only be transient.

Kevin, with due respect (and I do understand what you're trying to get across and value your work) I have nothing against plants, animals or biodiversity. I am however skeptical about green-washed-tree-hugging pseudo solutions with scarce knowledge base that distort reality. what you've written is indeed a very west-knows-all spiel. Relocating over 1 million well established poor (in the case of Dharavi) to new undeveloped lands? I'm afraid the rampant development of single detached units over ecologically sensitive areas that's happening in Florida is not exactly the sustainable model we're looking for (visuals below) http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2010/09/human_landscapes_in_sw_florida.html As per your plea against capitalistic approaches (& there are many good things about capitalism but that's another topic), you've entered a competition that is based on a capitalistic approach, platform though which you're trying to commercialize your products and services (very capitalistic, again nothing against that either) so let's drop the political correctness spiel & focus the energy and work where it matters. I sincerely hope we can green slums some day! best wishes.

bochita - I have no products. I help people build with ideas - I just help people. And no intent to relocate people out of the urban core - I love the core and live in it, grew up in Urban Core Miami. Plants must come back to the city. Animals must come back to the city. All integrated into structure. Structure cannot exist outside of nature.

One of my favorite quotes of Lydia Cabrera is "Son las mas Santos en e monte que en el cielo". Plants bring life to impersonal structure. Give the slums living architecture you bring hope. Give the slums your western oriented dead box ideas and you perpetuate the folly.

Live in the core and slums and you will understand that needs of the people are based in living architecture. My living architecture has withstood huge turbine driven hurricane wind simulation. Your designs, I suspect haven't.

Your supplied link doesn't go anywhere.

Bo, please no offense - I like the visual effects of your designs - awesome!

It's just that some designers are so afraid of living architecture..... Watch an eagle build a nest, examine a delicate hummingbird nest after a tropical storm, every twig in place. Look at wasp nests, bee hives. This biomimicry is what we are after. This biomimicry is not what most in the West want to hear about.

Bocita. The apparent energy and land saving of living in tall towers is lost when you consider the monoculture system and trucking requirements that supplies food. Micro farming and micro living will be the wave of the (near) future as costs continue to rise, ecological pressure increases and people get tired of working themselves to the bone to support a consumption based lifestyle. Further, my dwelling design, does not use up land space because it is held aloft on stilts. Crazy, I know... but so was going to moon.

Check out the article this am about Immigrants & planting a roof to make the structure feel like home - http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/queens/2011/06/10/2011-06-10_planting_new_roots.html

Great garden indeed, but it will be well short of feeding everyone in the building.

Yes SteveWood, but insight into structure! Taking account cultural desires & traditions the experts here provide technology to grow intensely and feed all. Point was intent not tech.

Thanks to everyone for creating such an exciting contest. I really enjoyed reading all of the great ideas. Somehow being in a contest made me pay more attention to alternatives than I ever would have.

Did anyone notice the wild swings in their rank in the last few hours? I'm even more curious about Jovoto and how they filter out people "gaming" the system. It seems like an intriguing and complicated math problem. I imagine that they need to encourage the right amount of "social networking" to get new people involved yet not alienate the people entering contests.

Maybe there could be a future contest similar to the way Netflix improved their recommendation system.

Yes, I noticed very wild swings in the ranks. That makes me suspect something is going on with last-minute attempts at ratings.

The idea of a simple low cost and fool proof and durable home for remote and third world locations has been an obsession of mine for years now. It seems to me that most of the ideas put forth here are not considering the realities of the real construction world and many do not address the requirements outlined in this briefing. I am not sure how the voting / decision process works but I hope that it is competent.

I have owned and operated two construction companies over twenty eight years, ten years in Philadelphia and a subsequent eighteen year period in San Diego. During my time in construction I found the inefficiencies of “on site” construction frustrating. I realized that if there was a way to make home construction more like a factory process, rather than the “keystone cops” approach, costs could be much lower. This led me to focus my thoughts on modular construction and my passion to help the needy led me to think of a way to provide basic housing for the poor. After considering many options, I finally determined that “cast in place” concrete was the best approach for providing durable long term housing therefore I started to think of ways of casting a single room ultra low cost home out of concrete.

This is a concept at this stage and we will need to develop and test actual form fabrication to overcome the drawbacks for an effective assembly. We can contact some family references at paper companies in order to obtain funding for the development of such a corrugated paper form assembly.

Together with your resources and my passion and experience, I believe that we can help provide basic hosing to many people around the globe. If you are interested in pursuing this project with me, I would be happy to work with your foundation. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely, Peter Lasensky +1-858-964-2226

Peter I am a firm believer in site built construction. Most of the inefficencies you talk about are the result of designer, architect, client demands. Design a good home. Engineer it to minimize waste. Do not allow any changes. And a good builder working with skilled trades will build it on time on a tight budget.

But the real advantage to on site construction are the contributions to employment, income, job skills, worker & home owner pride & the ability to respond to market tastes, cultural values, lifestyle differences. Modular construction puts everyone in cookie cutter homes and restricts all those positive contributions achieved with on site construction.

The only difficulty is controlling the change orders & having a team leader with he authority, leadership & communication skills to eliminate all those inefficiencies between the architect, designer & client.

@billie I thought you have seen many things and that you have plenty of experience, I am sure that you have, but we live in the real world.

Being poor is not synonymous with having only good intentions and being a contractor does not mean that he can only be bad.

Why do you want to shut your poor into an eternal inferior condition, without contact with the real world.

To build anything of value you must have; 1, Competence, 2, Organisation and, 3, You must be able to guaranty that you will actually do the job, be able to comply with laws, pay your workers and your suppliers, not to speak about taxes and importantly you must have workers,

If you are honest you will admit that the slums can not provide any of this without reserve.

Insist on your social values first and your ideological beliefs, they are noble, but by doing this you can only contribute to building slums all the while denying the others, the not socially correct, to do the rational. All because of your conviction that they just can not serve the common good.

I saw this differently. As the "teach them how to fish" concept mostly.

I have lived where nothing could be delivered without allot of cost, there were not allot of tools, and we had to figure out most of it with only the help of a few people. A good contractor or house plan wouldn't help for the most part. Nor pre-fab.

No, not the slums. Even less well stocked. :)

But with a few tools I know enough to build a log cabin.

Intentions non withstanding, I see the solution as giving people ideas, concepts and tools to build and let them use what is availible. Take Harvey's plastic block house or the strawbale house.

By showing people how to make the mechanism for the bales or blocks, giving them some information on the outer coating they can source the rest. They will find what they need to complete the house. Improvising, cutting costs as needed, but also innovating and adapting.

If we conceive on a concept that is easy to reproduce, without needing skilled labor or materials that are exotic, and give a few standards that are able to be kept for safety and durabilities sake, the house budget, design, layout will be figured completely as well as it could be.

A person with allot of trash in their area will build one design, where as somebody with allot of grass will build another. The device they would use, a manual compactor, is the only real technology and shared. The covering, adobe or concrete or something else will be found and mixed in whatever they have in hand.

But how many people in the slums know the details for land prep? Or building the foundations? Or solid roof designs? How about making an adobe or concrete based bricks?

That information is all I see that is lacking. It really isn't an issue with designing the best house, with great engineers or contractors:

It is the information we can pass on so that they can source what they need on their own.

We could be in the forest with a ton of tools, food, extra labor and time, but unless we know how to build a log cabin cabin, the details for the foundation, how to overlap the logs, support the roof, it won't be a proper house.

But if we have the knowledge, we can build an amazing house.

I see this the same way - teaching people HOW to build. And letting them figure out the rest.

Then you don't need to supply them anything.

Hi PLasensky,

It's a great idea! Have you ever used sonotubes (http://www.sonotube.com/)? Their ideas are quite similar and I think they are only available for columns making. Our office has spec it for many of our projects and the finishing of the concrete surface look great.

Few years ago when we visited Brazil, they used concrete and intentionally sticking out the rebars vertically so when they have money they can easily add another floor above.

Back to the formwork, it will be quite challenging to use paper for slabs/roof, where the underside is always taking both the expansion force and the load of concrete.

Anyhow, good luck and I hope you all the best!

like the majority of the people here, you are assuming you have skills and knowledge above that of the impoverished communities. well guess what? they haven't exactly been standing in the rain all these years. they have done better than you could have done in the same situation. they aren't poor because they are stupider than you. they are poor because daily necessities like food and water and medical care are far more expensive than what you pay. some spend their whole day fetching water. they don't have time to improve the house. it is an huge insult that you think you have anything to teach them.

Oh teigan, you are so wise and right. I have been wrong all this time. Tell me more. Tell what else you think I don't know. Please, more, everybody here needs to hear the things you think we don't know.

santa claus is really mom and dad.

Ha! I would have believed anything except that. Next you are going to tell me Dad and Grandpa are suppose to be different people.

Well, you guys are talking about education, that should start in the elementary schools, not in the slums with adults.

Eastern Europe under the communists built efficient concrete housing for the masses.

Ronald Omyonga defined the solution to housing for the slums of Nairobi as having to be holistic. It had to address not just the walls and roof, it also had to address opportunity. Creating opportunity for commerce is as important as providing housing.

I love everyone's passion about helping. But I agree with teigan.

Everyone likes to use the metaphor about fish.

Give a man a fish dinner and you feed him for one day. Teach him to fish and you feed him for the rest of his life.

I disagree.

I believe he already knows how to fish. His way of preparing fish to eat is probably better than our own. We just need to show him how to make a better net.

what good is a net when there are too many other people fishing? i've said it before although it keeps getting censored... to end poverty, abortion needs to be made fashionable and appealing worldwide.

teigan, is that something like the limiting of one child like they did in China?

That worked out great, didn't it?

it brought tens of thousands out of poverty. unfortunately, the rest of the world needs to do the same to make a lasting impact. we are all interconnected for available resources. it's supply and demand and the malthus effect.

Peter, the solution has already been discovered and repeatedly revised for perfection. Call (509) 560-4087 or visit the group sit for over 300 members who are ready to assist the World to better and more affordable housing http://styrohome.ning.com/

A better world through chemicals, LOL

water and oxygen are also chemicals

teigan, if you follow the link you see a promotion of the two dirtiest enterprises on the planet, foam plastics and cement.

if you deprive poor nations of the tools we used to rapidly progress, they'll never catch up. don't push your trendy green religion on them. besides, styrene foam is a thermoplastic and shouldn't be lumped in with the thermosets. it can be slightly melted and reformed. please recycle it.

Your styrene foam isn't recycled here in the States. There are vendors out there that will sell a machine to either heat it or compress it and then buy your "recycled" product. That is all about selling and servicing the machine they sell. It is to recycling what religion is to spirituality.

I read a statistic about foam plastics you might find interesting. They provide 70 % of the bulk in our landfills. They are like concrete in that they are inert and will last for thousands of years.

That's why building houses using blocks made without heat or chemicals out of foam plastic is so cool. You know, my http://www.recycledplasticblockhouses.com

But just because we can re-purpose it for such a noble cause doesn't mean we need to make more of it.

polystyrene foam (EPS) can be reshaped just by boiling it in a mould. it doesn't take any high tech machinery. you just need to shred it first. it's 100% recyclable even at home. as for concrete, most of it is used onsite for landscaping infill. very rarely does it go to the city dump. only small time builders have it hauled away and pay for disposal charges.

I just noticed. Places 9 thru 16 receive a $250.00 prize.

You would think it should be a $300.00 prize.

Even at $300, it still won't add up to a total of $25,000. I think it's closer to $28500. That would bring up to $28900. (Though it's late so check my math.)

Billie did you notice there were 300 entries! Cue music from the twilight zone...so next 17 jurors have to select two projects to join the top 3 rated by the community... as John Cleese said about English football (soccer) I have come to terms with loss but it is the hope that is killing me!

Thats why they get paid the big bucks !!

Hope the community here stays together in a forum somewhere

I agree with Kevinsonger - I would add it should be subdivided by continent. I am committed to doing what I can for the Americas.

Guys, I'm sorry to have to tell you that we cannot announce the winners today. The truth is that the judges have requested more time to make their decision - no surprise with an overwhelming outcome of 300 ideas! According to Dartmouth professor Vijay Govindarajan, the request for extra time will only be beneficial for the contest results - quoting him: “We want our judges to take their time, deliberate, and select the best designs. After all, we have 300 designs to go through – I’m not surprised we’re overwhelmed!”

So the final date for the announcement of the winners has been set at June 15. The judges and I hope and thank you for your understanding and we look forward to sharing the results with everyone on that date!

Thanks and keep up the good discussions here!

Thanks for the update on the timetable.

I'm being patient. I'm glad they are not being hasty w/ their decision and taking it very seriously.

1st place earthbag 2nd place earthbag 3rd place earthbag

You are standing on the most readily available building material. Bag it, Ram it, Bake it!! It is everywhere! It is FREE !!

thát's exactly the kind of irresponsible ignorant comment that makes other people's accurate useful information suspect by association. 99% of the time, what you're standing on is not suitable for any of the procedures you describe, and it isn't free unless you own the land or have express legal permission to take it.

teigan.... do you ever sleep ???

And what other product is more readily available. Which magic material do you propose that does not require manufacturing. Is there a new potion that is cheaper than dirt.

Some landfills, responsilble ones that care about health & safety, refuse to allow you to remove their plastic waste or containers which may have held ????

And even all the bottle recyclers here seem to want to fill their bottles with... Dirt. I find it easier, cheaper & faster to shovel dirt in a bag than pour dirt through a funnel into a bottle.

Dirt tends to be pretty generic & safe ... unless a petro chemical plant was operating there. Plywood does not grow on trees, & contrary to metropolitan beleif.... neither does lumber. And good luck finding a corrugated metal tree.

Oh I know ... you want us to use little bags of diamonds. I must admit diamonds are pretty safe. They even use them in medical instruments. Not sure about the $300.00 price point though.

So tell me, give me your enlightened opinion on a material which is always suitable, accessible & inexpensive. Usually criticism is based on knowledge so share with us that magical ingredient available world wide & so inexpensive. You could solve the US housing & economy meltdowm if you would just share your knowledge.

It is not right that you keep this elixir bottled up. Share it !!

The home should only be worth $300 at the habitable stage; otherwise, you are simply hiding true cost. Add labor costs to any of the entries (comparable to what an occupant earns ) and see who is closest to $300.

Billie, earth bags is a good idea whose time has come.

They are not the best answer for a lot of situations however.

The first obstacle of course is procuring material. An earth bag home ten feet by ten feet outside dimensions seven feet high will require at least 250 earth bags. That is ten cubic yards. That is a hole in the ground the size of the foot print of the home three plus feet deep.

CEB's and rammed earth can cut the material requirements by thirty to forty percent.

Earth bags, CEB's, and rammed earth work best where land for housing and housing materials isn't much of an issue.

Many slum areas sit on wetlands or wetland fringes - there is no 10 yards of earth available. Good dirt is usually market priced higher. :)

One of the best thing about this contest has been the exposure to the many alternative building material choices. Knowing which one works best is site specific. And most designs can be modified or adjusted to suit the material available.

I hope we keep an open mind to all the choices presented.

Bet you could grow so much food or algae across the surface of an earth bag! Unless there is biocide added to retard.

Anybody can fill a bag with dirt, making a place to live in with it is another. Just because one can stack up earth bags one on top of another it does not mean that one is an expert builder.

Neither does pouring a driveway. Thats why we have designers & engineers & architects !! And urban planners & inspectors & ......

With all due respect to the three winners, thank you for your great efforts.

I believe that earthbag construction is a good idea that works best in the western context.

People in the developing world equate sand bags with flood retention and road barriers. Not with home building.

If we don't ask the target audience what they want in a building method then all efforts will go down as coddling and paternalistic.

I believe much education and convincing is needed with your target audience before a mass building program is started. ( It seems very difficult but perhaps not impossible)

Good luck with all your future en devours and especially with the prototype workshop!

Did you hear the fat lady singing? I didn't.

nathalie is not fat, and she happens to be a very good singer.

Both true. Anyways, guys, there are no winners yet! Please wait for June 15th to fin out who won the contest...

Guess you are right Harvey, we will have to just wait and see what happens! I thought one, two and three were taking but we have to take in to account "Ranks may not reflect final result!"

The answer to HarveyLacey's China comment given above is like the useless thrashing of a fish with swallowed hook.

State & corporate agricultural wholesalers who move food great distances, subsidize or have subsidized food for peoples are so effective as duping us designers into believing food and water independance are not individually achievable and must be assembly line produced, trucked, shipped, sold. The 'They' want the vision of structure to be separate from personal food & water sustainability, for their profits and control lie in accomplishing such.

Much the same way we were duped by the banks into believing our houses needed turf lawns - need explaining? see http://www.gimmegreen.com/updates/seeGG.htm

And the 'They' have been successful for we have now argue against thinking of our home, our shelter, our hut, as a structure that can be designed for complete and sustainable survival.

Not enough resources - the argument is too worn. We take structure designed with intense fowl, plants and water cradle to cradle and feed a family of four every day of the year.

Though it may be regretful our most brilliant experienced minds, including mine, struggle to grasp a new world view for structure self-sustainability, future generations will eventually get there.

The beauty of a holistic structure design is that now the 300house becomes an ecosystem - bot just a structural, mechanical or biological ecosystem, but a complex hierarchy of individual forms, interactions and functions working together in a perpetually sustaining process to quote so to speak from Wikipedia's definition.

The house with walls, roofs, windows and floor is what commodity and water trusts want us to believe is what is 'proper' and 'logical'. For then they have quashed our true multi dimensional creativity and hold us servitude to their wares.

Water, food, shelter, community, micro-economy, art, native materials, plants, security, privacy and a sense of place really only start to define the complex hierarchy and interactions of a 300 house. Shelter design must spring forth from fre and independent thought develop into an ecosystem of complex interactions. It can provide long-term sustainability and be the focal point of family, community, economy and life.

There are enough resources, we just need to change our perspective ever so slightly.

Kevin, the comment about China and their one child policy refers to unintended consequences. China is finding out that having multiple generations made up of primarily sons isn't all that great. It comes with its own set of problems.

Kevin, the reason for this contest mirrors the reasons for the problem in the first place. There isn't a simple solution. If there was one chances are most likely we would have embraced it long ago.

Every solution we have proposed comes with drawbacks that are insurmountable in some situations.

Our idea of using the plastic trash is limited by location. It takes a huge amount of plastic trash to build a house with our system. In some rural areas there isn't the amount of raw material available to build the number of homes required.

The earth block,bag, rammed earth solutions won't work in the most congested of locations. The raw material isn't there and the cost of bringing it in is a big disadvantage.

The component/composite/cookie cutter solutions bring their own issues to the table. Eastern Europe used sameness neighborhoods to house their masses. It seems humans find their spirits stifled by sameness, especially in neighborhoods.

Probably the best thing about this contest is the conversation. And maybe, just maybe, that's the most important thing of all.

Harvey - to change our perspective, even a little is not easy. It is as you say, insurmountable. This is why we now in the Urban Core have live lawns and dead houses. We build structures to separate us from nature rather than use nature to build structures.

And I do say there are simple solutions. We just need more conversation like this to help us see them. Simple solutions are the legacy of designers - think of the paperclip, the wheel, money, steam engine, there is a simple solution to the 300house.

Harvey - I wasn't clear - I was referring to the answer given your comment by another (the one about not enough resources by Teigan) , not your comment - I totally am in sync with your comment

it's basic sociology and economics. population increases exponentially while the land to support it is finite. if growth is left unchecked any population destroys itself. we have too few predators to trim our flock, so we must rely on disease, war, and natural disasters. unless of course we evolve enough to comprehend how much better life can be for everyone just by being polite and not pop out babies like savages. doesn't seem likely though judging from the morons here who you can't grasp something so easy as malthusian principles.

I had to look up "Malthusian". Interesting. And not surprising, based upon your other comments.

2 out of 300 is better than lottery!

1/150 or .6% chance still a few powers of 10 better

I understand there are products out there that can protect your fingernails from nervous teeth. Plus there is a whole industry dedicated to the calming of nerves. However, if you are the type that thrives on the tension, have fun.

This is fun by the way.

When you see what Venezuela is doing you wonder about the reality of a $300.00 home.


I'm from Venezuela, and that's just a political move because of the next year elections. in order to achieve that goal, he should be producing 7000 houses... per day. he has made about 25.000 in 12 years. So... let me laugh out loud.


I highly recommend listening to the message one more time. Vijay's inspiration comes from real life interactions with those less fortunate than himself. The genius in his message is his appreciation that the only difference between the less fortunate than himself is the opportunities he has had and they haven't.

The whetstone for my own idea is Haiti. Interacting on the blogs about Haiti sharpened not only my ideas, it forced me to focus on the humanity of the solution for housing for the poorest of the poor.

Haiti is one of the reasons I'm not fond of prefabricated solutions. Not because prefabrication is so bad in itself but because it doesn't address the humanity of poverty. I believe the best medicine for malaise is positive action by the individual. The best medicine for the group hopelessness is group positive action. A key element of that remedy is the opportunity to individualize the outcome. That opportunity to individualize the finished product is a public statement about a private commitment. It does for the spirit what four walls and a roof do for a house.

One of my pet peeves about Haiti involves the concrete solutions I see offered. They usually involve expensive equipment that is imported from outside. The idea is that the concrete that Haitians made failed and caused most of the deaths from the earthquake. The only way for Haitians t make good concrete is to have a machine make it for them.

I see that as b.s. If you live in the industrialized world you can see examples of good concrete made without machines that is still viable sixty, seventy, eighty plus years later. That's because what is important with concrete isn't having a machine to mix it but to have the right recipe.
Good concrete was made in the industrialized world without machines. It can be made in the developing nations too.

Let's say a machine to mix concrete by the time it's on site in Haiti cost someone seven thousand dollars. The first thing is it not only pulls seven thousand dollars out of the bank, it also removes jobs. For a thousand dollars we can put enough hand tools for working concrete in the hands of three crews. Three crews mixing concrete the same way our parent's parents did it can do a monolithic pour. That leaves six thousand dollars for wages. The last I heard that's six hundred man days wages for labor. Haiti's biggest problem is unemployment. When they don't have enough labor to do the work then they need the tools that the industrialized world uses to maintain production when there's a labor shortage. Until then we need to provide answers to their problems, not products that reflect answers to ours.

I see the $300.00 through the same lens. If the issue is shelter then we need to help them create their vision of shelter. It probably won't be one we would want and that's okay. They know what a house is. They know what it should look like. They know how and why the design works for them. Once again, we help them with a proven recipe.

The concrete that failed in the earthquake wasn't the fault of the workers. They were doing it the way they had been taught for generations. I'm sure they took pride in their work. The reason it failed was because their recipe was sabotaged by the price of cement, five times the price of it here in the States the last time I heard. And the availability of crushed stone wasn't there. They weakened the their concrete with too little cement and substituting the stone that was available instead of what is required. They used limestone or river rock. Limestone is too soft for making concrete. River rock is too smooth. It has been described as making concrete with marbles, no surfaces for the cement to adhere itself to.

From day one the recycled plastic block house has been viewed with suspicion by the Haitians on the blogs. They don't have much but they still have pride. They saw the concept of a house made with garbage as an insult and or the abuse of Haitians when they were down with an experimental solution for housing. That is understandable. But we saw it differently.

We didn't see it as a house made with garbage even though the plastic we wanted to use was in the garbage. We saw the plastic block house as a good solution for Haiti. There is ample material, plastic in the garbage. And using the plastic blocks a lot of pressure is taken off the concrete supply chain. Instead of channeling cement and concrete to small house construction it could be assigned to the large projects that are critical to the rebuilding of Haiti. Haitians have built their houses with blocks. All we are doing is offering a more efficient and easier to work with block.

There is a couple of other advantages to the recycled plastic block for Haiti besides decreasing the need for concrete. There is the seismic thing. We have exposed recycled plastic block walls to rough roads at speed. They have handled it without any issues. We have a wall that is six feet long, the longest we can use for the shake table at the University of Oklahoma, and it is six feet high. As soon as the Fear Laboratory can get us onto their shake table we believe we will have the numbers that prove the superiority of our system over conventional block wall construction. The reason for the hesitancy in giving a firm date on the testing is because the University of Oklahoma is doing the testing for free and working us into their schedule when they can.

If you look at the photos of work on housing in Haiti you will see the bulk of the work is being done by males. That's because conventional and less conventional methods involve heavy lifting. Our system is designed specifically not to require strength and traditional building skills to build a good house. We accept that men are not only always available for work on home building, sometimes they aren't necessarily the best workers either.

Our system has something else going for it that I believe is good for the spirit of those involved. There is work for everyone. The kind of work that rewards collaboration of a group. Jobs that some are going to be better at than others is a good thing. We have those. So someone that might not enjoy or be good at one thing might find another function where they can excel and be appreciated by the group.

I guess I should apologize for the length of the post. I won't because for me this is about something too important because someone reading this might find something worth thinking about. Even better yet, they might read this and see where I was wrong. They might see where I didn't think enough about a point or I missed a critical point completely.

Maybe I'm contributing to what I believe is the real important mission of this contest, conversation.

When I got home this evening I had an interesting question I'm sure others have had about the plastic blocks. It was about the toxicity.

I haven't thought that was an issue. Here's why.

  1. We are not using heat, chemicals, or high pressure to change the molecular structure of the plastics involved.

  2. If there is a toxicity issue then we are all in trouble already. That's because the plastic we are using is all around us. It is used to contain our food, furnish our automobiles, clothe us, and protect us from weather etc.

3.All we are doing is baling the plastic into blocks, nothing else.

I do not look at it this way, I do not think that this Challenge was a course in building the $300 home. The Challenge asked for ideas, proposals, solutions. In this it has succeeded, it has received many ideas and proposals, if not solutions. It was a pleasure to converse with everyone, it was an enjoyable byproduct of the process.

Attention Please contestants and Jury from MAX Building Systems!

I have just got off the phone with Mike Mcain who is considered the top authority on papercrete today. He has pioneered successful methods of papercrete construction throughout his 25 year career. Most all the people entered into this contest would recognize his name.

He has given me some very interesting information.

The earliest papercrete building was actually built in 1910 for the Chicago Worlds fair. Initially it was to be only a temporary building but because it turned out to be so strong they left it standing and is now still part of a library in Chicago. At that time it was called Industrial Papermache.

(A better name for papercrete which seems some are starting to call it would be fiberous cement, which is what it actually is.)

I have explained my MAX Building System and he sees no reason that water would enter into the panel with the cement/sand slurry system otherwise known as rendering at almost 1/2 inch thick. If any cracks did appear they would only be surface cracks and would not allow enough air (as mold needs air to live) for mold to start. In addition we are placing smooth coat stucco which acts as a flexible sealant.

As I said before all other examples from my detractors of mold starting were only examples where the papercrete was left to the elements with out a layer of rendering cement which we are doing.

In his words, "As long as the panel is sealed as you are doing there is no danger for mold to start."

This completely proves what we have experienced ourselves in Cambodia that once the walls are sealed correctly there is no possibility of water retention or mold.

In addition, he gave me a technique in which to water proof each panel even before the rendering is placed which is extremely cheap and that is to simply mix clear silicone with paint thinner and it turns into a plastic water proofing when applied.

After that dries we then apply the rendering and then the smooth coat stucco.

He said that there is a house in Silver City, New Mexico that had this applied to it and 20 years later the house is completely fine.

He said that I could post his phone number on to this blog for anyone to call him.

His number is 575 531 2201. He is living and working in Columbus, New Mexico and said he would be happy to talk to anyone about their questions.

I'm sorry to have posted this on the main blog but I did it for those others who also entered an idea involving papercrete (even though they did not ask me to) whos ideas were belittled as well.

I posted it here also because certain people were calling me a liar.

Those who accuse me of lying about the efficiency and success of the MAX Building System can simply call Mike Mcain the top authority on papercrete today!

Thank you!


Keep in mind that Silver City New Mexico has annual rainfall of about 15 inches. Cambodia's rainfall runs between forty and sixty inches.

Papercrete works great in dry climates. The issues arrive in wet climates.

What about nchip entry, currently sitting 32nd. Built 2 years ago in India & having no trouble surviving monsoons. And it looks like a regular home.

Hi Harvey,

I do appreciate your civility in dealing with this.

But it seems like you did not read my last entry.

Mold needs a surface area and air to grow.

As stated in my long entry, those who site mold problems with papercrete are using examples of papercrete without a concrete skin as ergodesk so aptly describes it.

The papercrete panel has such a cohesive surface that when cement rendering is applied there is absolutely no way that it can come off because the rendering actually absorbs into the panel itself on the surface. So tell me please where is the surface area?


It does not matter if there are 40 inches or 60 inches of rain!

in Chicago, there is an average rainfall of 36 inches per year and it is a humid, continental climate. At the same time it is windy and can have very severe thunderstorms.

In Chicago is where the oldest known papercrete building still stands as part of a library that was built in 1910!

Mold is a surface problem that can come up on anyones building material including earthbag, and wood.

I guess we should get rid of earthbags and wood as homes for the poor?

This is talking about earthbags. "The walls also need to be kept as dry as possible to keep bugs, mold, and mildew out of your structure." http://www.lifeunplugged.net/greenbuilding/earthbag.aspx

Mold can easily get into earthbags and destroy the inside because there is so much warmth and pockets of air and material for the mold to latch on to causing big problems.

The Max Building System does not have this problem because the only surface area is a sand rich cement rendering on the outside and inside of each panel. It is impossible for mold to penatrate into a sand/cement rendered slurry and grow with out air.

Billie brings up a good point. nchip has a used paperhhouse which is sitting in 32nd place that has survived 2 monsoon seasons in India and he has a video of his work on the inside. Do you see mold?

I have a System using papercrete (I prefer to call fiberous cement). that has survived two monsoon seasons in Cambodia and is a complete success.

You cited greenhombuilding.com. This is Kelly Hart.

You see I talked to Mike Mcain and he is the pioneer of the uses of successful papercrete applications around the world.

He just got back from building 6 papercrete houses for the poor and the needy in Mexico who make less then $10 a day. These buildings are a complete success!

The truth is from Mike Mcain that Kelly hart was one of his first students around 20 years ago.

He showed him how to build correctly with papercrete but in his words "Kelly Hart went off on a tangent trying his own ways and methods using papercrete that simply did not work because he was mixing to many elements." That is why so many of his projects failed. And he eventualy gave up on his version of papercrete.

Mike Mcain carried on with the correct version of papercrete(fiberous cement) and brought it to the success that it is today, following the same basic principals and adding many innovations and uses as time went by.


This whole thing about a mold problem is completely exagerated and it is a blown up effort by some to try to put down a good idea, it seems unfortunately out of spite.

I will have you know Harvey that I do not put you into that category because I believe we share a heart to empower the poor and the needy.

I'm just asking you and all people to weigh the evidence and believe the truth. I have given more evidence and proof then anyone.



The best material foe ALL Climates is EPS coated with Concrete Skins. Examples http://mlkshk.com/user/ergodesk

When you work with panels there are always JOINTS, vertical and horizontal, there is a discontinuity, an edge condition. If you solved this problem than you can imply that it is good, saying that it is the "best" needs more proof than your declaration. I think you should read some of the comments, made here in this Challenge, about using insulation in hot climates.

depends whose comments he reads. so much contradictory information is being thrown around about insulation. bille learned R values perched on a pirate's shoulder .

Why pay for insulation when you can get shade for free with living walls & green roofs & ET evaporative cooling also for free - the tropics -

Growing up in south Florida in the 60's the Seminole still had chickees built in the everglades - they were very cool...in many ways

I agree kevinsonger. Plastics have only been around for 80 years yet we had no trouble finding ways to keep cool in the tropics prior to that invention. In the Arctic to keep heat in EPS is excellant. But keeping cool in the tropics is a different matter. EPS only slows heat transfer. It does not generate or remove the heat. And in the tropics, a sealed air conditioned environment is not necessarily a healthy one. As Canada is finding out, a well sealed heated home in the Arctic can also lead to major health concerns.

As the Competition Guide has pointed out- most of the Judges had not viewed the entries by june 10th and they had to extend the deadline to June 15. Good that comments also registered for the extended time.

The Judge has to have at least 300 Views followed by a dozen or so for the shortlisted entries. Average have 10 slides makes judging a solid 50 hour work week. So the Judges would not have enough time even after the extension. The references, write ups comments and responses provided by diligent participants would get a glance? very feeble chance!

Only two or three judges had comments and they too completely downplayed the Brief. With acknowledged flaws in the Ranking by online viewers, there remains a huge question mark on participation of Judges however competent they may be, and so the fairness of this whole competition.

Good idea but bad approach- For confused problem definitions and procedures - 'Poor' Karma Rating for $300 House :-(

Hope the Organizers publish a Combined Jury Report -they owe it to the participants.

You seem to forget there was a list of qualifications for the entries. The judges don't have to judge 300 plus entries. They only have to evaluate those that qualify.

This could be a very simple process involving just a couple of people. If the idea is admittedly or obviously way out of line cost wise there is no reason for the judges to consider it. That goes for the rest of the criteria for consideration. If the idea relies upon futuristic materials and machinery instead of current technologies then it's out too.

Those that qualify based upon the criteria outlined in the rules are the only ones that the judges should consider.

I know that eliminates a lot of good ideas. Maybe the next contest should be for those kinds of ideas.

The contest initiated the conversation. The prototype workshop should amplify it.

And that might be the most important thing of all.

Good karma ratings for a $5 solar cooker for all the houses found on this creative blog link (not mine) - http://ow.ly/5hW5Z

The most important thing is all the entries go through the review you are suggesting. The prototype part is cancelled already.

The original host of the prototype event backed out. They plan to still hold the prototype event as soon as a new host and location is found.

If you know of an organization or university that might agree to be a host I suggest you contact that entity and the $300.00.com organization.

What would be too cool for words would be for the final conversations by the judges as they narrow it down be recorded, for posterity, and youtube of course.

After reading the bios of the judges I think the recorded conversations would be even more interesting. The diversity of personal interests and perspectives would surely make interesting conversation.

Its been all too cool for words and numbers. What conversations with the judges? Most did not even take time to view the entries let alone comment or converse. Currently the organizers seems hoping that Judges at the least look at it by the extended deadline.

Thats the reason a Combined Jury Statement should be called for- they owe it to fair participants.

Earth or sand is not for free - only you have your own land.

Free material is just plastic, because is trash. Look at here: http://www.google.de/search?hl=de&biw=1237&bih=749&q=slum%20m%C3%BCll&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi

Simply melt the plastic-tash and make panels (walls and roofs) out of this trash.

Great pictures Richardo.

That's what makes our idea so great. The trash is picked up. It is processed manually into blocks using ONLY pressure. The blocks are then used to build houses.

No heat, no melting, no panels.

When you heat plastic you have to separate it into different resins, That's why you have the recycle emblems one through six, it's to help you distinguish the resin used to make that product. If you don't separate it by resins then you can't melt it all together effectively. They melt at different temperatures and they don't bond to each other using just heat. And let us not forget the fumes, aka toxins, that are released when plastic is heated.

Then there's the contamination. Even if the plastic is washed and cleaned it is still contaminated by the product it contained or was exposed to. That's why when they make a new product using old plastics they can only go up to about eighteen percent of old material. The contamination weakens the plastic.

One of the contestants thought like you do. He thought you could melt plastic trash into a complicated geometric shape easily. You can't at this point in time. One of his ideas was to use a process like one used to recycle plastics into sheets in the UK. Their machines use up to 1000 tons of pressure in the process. Not something you would put into a community for short time use.

And the plastic isn't free. Yes it is free to pick up. But once it is sorted by resin, cleaned, and shredded, it has value. Resins 1,2, and 3 for instance currently have a value of up to $.70 (seventy cents) per pound if it's on a boat headed for the far east or in a rail car going to Cincinnati.

That value is another reason our idea of recycled plastic building blocks is such a good one. Once the plastics are picked up then the conventional recyclers will swarm upon the collectors. The collectors will have to make a decision about what to do with the plastic that is valuable. If the price the recyclers offer is good enough they can sell those plastics to the recyclers to offset the cost of building the houses.

There's another good thing to consider at this point. If the only market is the recycler then they set the price. If however the recycler has to compete with the block for building a house then they might have to raise their price to get the product they want.

I was told that in Haiti they are willing to pay the collectors $.05 (five cents) per pound for sorted and washed plastic resins 1,2, and 3. The processor of the collected plastic got $.07 (seven cents) per pound. Compare that to the price the recycling center in Plano Texas was getting a couple of weeks ago for fifteen hundred bales of 1,2, and 3's. They were getting $.21 (twenty one cents) per pound. That stinks.

If you look again at the pictures you will see the trash isn't all plastic. There's paper and there's cloth in it too. One of the interesting facts about Haiti's trash is it is full of clothing. That is because there has been so much clothing donated that some people find it easier to get new clothing than washing their old clothing.

Paper and clothing can be processed into synthetic charcoal. Haiti for instance has a tradition of using charcoal for cooking. If we pick up all the trash then true recycling can occur. The valuable plastics could be sorted and sold for a better price if available. That can subsidize the home building. The other plastics can be processed into building blocks. And the paper and cloth can be processed into synthetic charcoal saving tress and lumber from being burned for fuel. None of these processes require heat or chemicals. It is the ultimate green.

We suggest comments be closed on the entries. Popular contest entries may be prime targets for spam comments.

We do not intend to monitor our contest entries ad-infinitum, nor do we expect Jovoto staff to monitor them either.

Best regards to the legitimate participants and officials, The DecaDome Team

cc: nsonne

Hmmm, the best thing about the idea is the conversation. And you want to eliminate conversation?

We would not want anyone's ideas to be buried in un-moderated spam or misinformation. Closing the comments on the ideas is a simple, lasting solution to prevent abuse of this system. Continued discussion on ideas can persist on other venues, where moderation is implemented.

I visited you entry and saw what you are concerned about. I think you are right on the entries being locked down.

The premise of this Contest launched by the Business and Marketing Professors - better 'Design' at $ 300 shall achieve housing for billions of slum dwellers across the globe.

The whole responsibility rest with the Designers. The Judges should tell you.

So the Designs are here professors. How you doing?

... alea iacta est - the winners are out now! CONGRATS TO THE WINNERS and THANKS to all of you for creating hundreds of intriguing ideas as well as endless inspiring discussions! I marked the jury winners as "sold ideas" even though they're technically not sold, just so the jury winners are as evident as the community winners at first sight. We are just finalizing the details on the workshop and will get back to you soon with more information. We will also provide you with a place on the 300 house site where we would love you to continue your conversation. It has been an awesome experience, thanks to all of you again, and not only do I hope to see you continuing the conversation, but I also can't wait to see the outcome of the workshop and your further discussions! Thanks, Nathalie

I noticed that there are only 3 concepts that have been identified for prototyping and no Special Price have been awarded. Did the goals change in this respect?

That is not the case - the 3 Jury winner AND the three first Community winners will participate in the workshop.

Congratulations to the winners!

Wow, I can't believe the top three were earthbag. So many good ideas, and the juries picked great projects also. Thanks to the jovoto organizers and Ingersoll Rand and the visionaries who thought this up. It's been so great to see all these ideas and be able to be influenced by so much wonderful work. I can't wait to hear what the next step is. The really precious outcome will be if some of the poor get more of a chance to build shelters for their family. That's what this is all about.

Democracy won, the jury did the best they could.

"Mission Accomplished" The Participants did the best they could with 'The Brief' Judges imparted a false credibility.

Glückwunsch! Congrats!

Congratulations to all the winners!

May you have great success at the prototype workshop!


Matt Shannon

These prototypes have Zero chance of changing the ground realities. It should be an education (hopefully- an eye opener) for the organizers and winners only (and would do nothing to change the housing conditions) and divert funds and talent from where its seriously needed.

Review the existing earth bag/tube (Super Adobe) construction and any pragmatic person would realize why these models only seen in experimental stages.

Super Adobe makes Adobe superficial. The fundamental idea of Adobe is using earth (water, sun and 'Sweat') is to utilize universally available resources. Plastic bags/tubes are alien, expensive and not readily available.

Unter den Top 5 Entwürfen haben wir 4 Earthbag-Gebäude. In meinen Augen zeigt dies das die meisten Voter nicht nachgedacht haben. Warum ich dies meine?

  1. Slums sind in der Stadt, dort gibt es kein Sand oder Erde.
  2. Mit Erde sollte man keine Häuser bauen. Gute Erde sollte man zum anpflanzen von Nahrung nutzen.
  3. Die Wände brauchen viel Platz und verbrauchen unnötig Raum.
  4. Diese Gebäude kann man nich einfach verändern, wie Gebäude aus Panels.
  5. Soll man für die Häuser, Tonnen von Erde in das Slum fahren? ....

Earthbag-Gebäude sind eine tolle Idee wenn man auf dem Land einzelne Häuser bauen möchte.

Das 300 $-Haus-Projekt kann mit diesen Entwürfen nie Erfolg haben. Das Projekt ist eine tolle Idee. Die ausgesuchten bzw. gevoteten Ideen dagegen weniger.

Nur vorgefertigte Häuser machen in meinen Augen Sinn.

Manchmal muß man Irrwege begehen, damit man weiß das es sich um einen Irrweg handelt.

bin ganz deiner Meinung

Earthbag-Gebäude - Eine kleine Berechnung

Annahme: Hausbau, Grundfläche 3m x 3m = 9 m²- nur 2 m Wandhöhe

Wandfläche: 3m x 2 m = 6 m² Wanddicke: 0,3 m Wandvolumen: 6 m² x 0,3 m = 1,8 Kubikmeter

Jetzt rechne ich einfach nur mit 3 Wänden (Aussparung Tür, Fenster, ...) : 3 x 1,8 m³ = 5,4 m³

Wir brauchen 5,4 Kubikmeter Erde für 3 Wände.

Als spezifische Dichte der Erde nehmen wir "2" an. 5,4 m³ x 2 = 10,8 Tonnen Erde

Für die Wand brauchen wir Platz: 3m länge x 0,3 m breite = 0,9 m ² - annährend 1 m² Platz für eine Wand. Jetzt hat bekannterweise ein Haus 4 Wände.

Aus dem 9m² Grundfläche können wir also nur ca. 6² Nutzfläche gewinnen.

1: 10,8 Tonnen Erde für 9m² Haus 2: Aus 9m² Grundfläche erhalten wir nur ca. 6 m² Nutzfläche und verlieren somit ca. 1/3 der Fläche.

Aus über 10 Tonnen Erde erhalten wir eine Nutzfläche von ca. 6 Quadratmetern.

Habe ich mich verrechnet?

Earthbag Building - A small calculation

assumption: Construction, area 3m x 3m = 9 sqm - only 2 m wall height

Wall area: 3m x 2 m = 6 m² Wall thickness: 0.3 m Wall volume: 6 m x 0.3 m = 1.8 cubic meters

Now I expect with just three walls (opening doors, windows, ...): 3 x 1.8 m = 5.4 m

We need 5.4 cubic yards of earth for 3 walls.

As the specific gravity of the Earth, we take "2". 5.4 m x 2 = 10.8 tons of soil

We need space for the wall: 3m wide x 0.3m length = 0.9m ² - approximately 1 m² of space for a wall. Now known to be a house has four walls.

From 9m ² footprint so we can win only about 6 square meters space.

1: 10.8 tons of earth for 9m ² house 2: From 9m ² floor space, we only get about 6 m² and lose about 1 / 3 of the area.

For over 10 tons of earth, we get an area of approximately 6 square meters.

Is this correct?

Richardo, leave it alone, JOVOTO could do nothing else, the votes were there, they were public.

What surprises me is that this distinguished panel of the jury did lent their name to this and let it happen without dissent. It is to their credit however that none of the earthbaggers were selected for the prototyping. (If my interpretation is correct). Of course the Mandatory requirements were totally disregarded.

As I read it you are incorrect. The top three plus the top two juror award winners get the two week prototype workshop.

Harvey I only see 3 of the 16 entries selected for the prototyping.

{quote}The goal of the this contest is to find identify 5 concepts and designs to be tested as full scale prototypes. The top 3 community winners and 2 jury nominations will be invited to a 2 week prototyping workshop. The specifics of the workshop are yet to be determined, updates following soon.{unquote}

The popularity vote three are earth bag. The jurors went for earth blocks.

I guess there is some way to come up with five concepts and designs out of using earth bags and earth blocks.

Plastic bags/tubes are alien, expensive and not readily available. Earth Bags wall construction need be wider than 0.3 Meters (about a foot) to stand - Slenderness to Weight for 2.5M (about 8ft) high walls.

Super Adobe makes Adobe superficial. The fundamental idea of Adobe is using earth (water, sun and 'Sweat') is to utilize universally available resources.

Its worthless trying to build these prototypes, just review the existing examples and any pragmatic person would realize why these models only seen in experimental stages. These prototypes have Zero chance of changing the ground realities.

Where ever the prototyping will be held they should be prepared to have some massive holes dug on their property.

Maybe that is why the last place bowed out?

It would work if people would want to dig fish ponds next to their houses........................................................................Ha, actually though its not a bad idea.

Not a bad critic but mostly every material must come from somewhere- but

you can use cut and fill to get at least a part of the needed material. Otherwise there will come several loads of material (for many houses) with trucks just to be unloaded somewhere nearby. Thats not much expensive, not a big problem.

Earthbricks are a good idea as well, need earth. Concrete needs earth. Modular elements don't need earth but are mostly more expensive and don't grow on trees in the neighbour's yard as well..

Anyway- congratulations to the winners! I'm really looking forward to the results of the workshop- enjoy!

All the best,


PS: does someone know what this "whymandesign.com" is and why some people here think of it as spam? anything unserious about them??

have you looked at their website?

It defines spam.

Well it can be defined as spam if they're not giving you any input on your idea but using the platform to promote their own website. thanks for the heads up guys, I removed their comments!

Today is the winner's 29th birthday!!!!!

Whoop! Whoop!

Happy Birthday Patti!!!!

Right, 29. That was about as long ago as yours was, Harvey! It has made for a nice birthday. There are a lot of winners and I hope they are all enjoying their day of glory like I am.

Congratulations to the winners and a big thank you to Jovoto and Ingersoll Rand for a very intriguing competition. Unfortunately, the method of choosing winners by community voting is fraught with problems and probably not the best way to find the most suitable design. In future, perhaps the expert jury should choose ALL the winners and just have the community make comments and ask questions.

I thought the jury was going to have some input on who won. What did the 17 people on the jury do? The winners apparently were the top entries based on popularity, if I am understanding the ratings.

Are you talking about rubber stamping?

I was not implying rubber stamping. I would just like to know the judging procedure. Did each member of the jury simply rate the entries? Was their rating weighted heavier than the public's ratings? I'm just curious because the list of winners is still ordered based on rating. It appears that some entries that were not rated at the top during the public rating session now have ratings high enough to be in the winning group.

"Mission Accomplished" Corporate Social Responsibility satisfied for the sponsors. Professors got great illustrations for their blogs and become new experts on business with the billions of poor.

Its clear the distinguished Jury had little input or no conversation amongst themselves they would have published a combined jury report- Who knows- Anybody here wonder how this competition has helped the poor so far but the organizers fancy?

Very disappointed in the way winners were decided. Would never recommend this type of competition in the future. Despite the best intentions by the organisers, it became nothing more than a popularity contest. All entries should have been governed by strict eligibility criteria in order to have a fair comparison. For those who spent months or even years on their affodable houses, there must be frustration as to how little time was actually spent by the jury on each submission. Not convinced that the poor will actually benefit in the long run. A golden opportunity missed, for sure!

I agree with you 100%. From the huge Jury - just 3 or 4 voted. The other was not active. Why? And I looked here: http://www.jovoto.com/community/MBhoot - MBhoot really voted "loved idea" by a fun submission!!

And the co-founder (Christian Sarkar) is a Public Relation (Propaganda) Firm: www.christiansarkar.com/

In my opinion that just was a big experiment and the jovoto-designer just was the rats or extras. The wast the time, because that was never the targete, to create a house for 300 Dollar.

And than the gave a submission a special award: http://www.jovoto.com/contests/300house/ideas/12803 Mahindra & Partner http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:22P5iNy2mBYJ:www.mahindraintertrade.com/biz_technical_business/contact_tech_biz.htm+mahindra+s+mohan+raghavan&cd=4&hl=de&ct=clnk&gl=de&source=www.google.de

Mahindra is a big conglomerate.

Jovoto was used to make a story. And now Mr. Sarkar can yell out a nice story to the mass media.

Edward Bernays was the founder of the new Propaganda. He wrote the book "Propaganda" and used the theory from Sigmund Freud.

And here some small information how the game with social groups works: The Key is: influence a group or create a social group / lead the social group and you have more power / might.

Or just read this: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:6QkoeLKhUa0J:www.historyisaweapon.com/defcon1/bernprop.html+social+group+bernays&cd=5&hl=de&ct=clnk&gl=de&source=www.google.de

Greats Phil Logphie

@ Phil_Logphie: you couldn't be more mistaken - ALL of the judges voted, just not on the platform. They went through all of the submissions, and picked the ones they liked best. By no means did they all agree on one design at once - it was a tough decision and a long discussion, and you should give them credit for it. Christian did a great job in organizing everything and he is working like crazy to make this workshop happen after the initial organizer bailed out. Instead of posting this really negative and counterproductive comments, I'd be interested in what exactly you contributed to this contest as I don't see a single comment or rating from your side. Thanks, Nathalie

Dear Professor Govindarajan, your speech (video) inspired me and others to participate in this contest. May we ask you to sum up? Or just a brief comment? Yours sincerely, Arturs Rozenfelds. (Idea No. 45.)

[quote] "We're delighted by the depth and breadth of the submissions we received," says Vijay Govindarajan, Professor of International Business and the Founding Director of Tuck's Center for Global Leadership. "Hosting this contest on Jovoto's open, co-creation platform gave us a wealth of ideas and identified the people who we believe have the passion, skill, and commitment, to take the project to the next level, prototyping and actually building a $300 house for the poor. We invite all the participants to continue the discussion at www.300house.com [unquote]

You can read this by clicking on the link in the description above.

One has to try their best in what they believe in, Judge Mbhoot has given informative comments while Christian sarkar has given good propoganda to Prof Gobindrajans $300 House. Nobody would have given a damn to this issue without their efforts.

They could be faulted for believing that DESIGN would provide the solution and taking it as their starting point, but not for their integrity as yet. There is a hope created, we would see if it proves a hype.

Future action now narrowed to these handful of chosen designs to be built as prototypes- Earth Bags have already proven impracticable, Jury selection and the corporate Model already proven limited so repeating them is in no way innovative or forward.

Its time to stop marveling the arbitrary designs and the humongous media response resulting from simple blog post and get some serious strategy in place with all these big names attracting corporate grants and funds would be totally squandered along with volunteers time and enthusiasm.

I realize that I'm not the technowhiz that most here are. But for the life of me I can't find the place to continue this discussion at www.300house.com

The only place I've found for the discussion is this and it's not about ideas for a $300.00 house. It's discussing the contest for ideas about a $300.00 house.

Two different animals, completely different species, not even close genetically.

Now that the emotions, the surprises, disappointments and the joys of having won a Prize, in the $300 HOUSE Challenge, have settled down it is perhaps a good moment to reflect and make an analysis of what has happened in this effort to find a way to improve the lives of the world’s poor and abused.

It was not a regular JOVOTO Challenge, I think. It was a lot more than that. Some of us did not realize it at first and JOVOTO did not realize it either, of this I am sure. Had they realized it they would have written the BRIEFING NOTES with more care and precision.

There was a lot more at stake than the PRIZE MONEY. There is an enormous market out there for the $300 HOUSE, seemingly easy to concur, one might think. The Challenge has attracted not only creative individuals. Along the way it has also attracted Interest Groups, lobbies of all sorts as well as some professionals and many amateurs.

It became a fight to win at all costs, rather than just a simple contest of ideas. So much the better, it is for a good cause, so why not.

We could all provide a solution, ours. After all it should not be difficult to conceive a small shack. No great competence is needed for this. Anyone can do it, a very noble idea to save the poor.

The credibility, the seriousness of the challenge was backed by a very distinguished Jury who lent their names to it. Of course Jury does mean “a panel of judges” or a “board of judges” if you like. We were assured there will be a fair examination of our proposals. The Jury was there to guarantee it.

All the participants wanted to win, this is normal. What is not normal is that many, if not all, have maneuvered to get the maximum of good votes for the rating of their "design" and made sure that the adversaries got the bad ones. The way the system was designed it was possible, if you knew how. Some did know how, more than the others, but we also knew or had good reasons to believe that even though we play the vote manipulation game, there were some safeguards built into the system. It would correct the eventual exaggerations at the end.

The Jury had even asked for extra time to study the proposals. We were reassured that the proposals were being examined by impartial experts.

To our great surprise the Jury’s decision was announced. The winners certified by the Jury were identical to those selected by the popular ratings, without any comments, without any dissent. Actually it is not the Jury who made the announcement.

Can anyone honestly believe that the Jury could possibly have agreed with the public ratings, without reserves, which was, most probably, fraught with massive vote manipulation?

The BRIEFING NOTES is a contract and with careful reading we can understand that there was no way that anyone could have altered the public votes without annoying consequences. In reality we should have realized this right from the beginning. Probably the Jury did not realize it either, but they could have done something about it. They did nothing. Not even a note of dissent.

Could it be that we have missed a golden opportunity to advance the cause of the poor of the world, probably not. It is not that simple. On the other hand we have lost something for sure. We have lost a little bit of our trust in our judgment and in our capacity to believe in our fellow men, I did.

The world’s poor got nothing out of all this, except perhaps the hope of having their own earth-bag homes one day; there is a good selection amongst the winners.

As for the winners, they know full well how and why they won and of course they will get as far as the merit of their idea will bring them, with or without me wishing them Good Luck.

As for me, I am glad that I am still quite innocent and naive, in spite of my fairly advanced age, even after having participated in this Challenge.


Jovoto and the $300.00 house community might want to visit their judging system.

Second place wasn't won by someone that has a passion for housing for the poor. It was won by someone that evidently has learned to play Jovoto and it's members very well.

The passionate entries can recall that this entry stayed at the top of the list until the last day.

They are going to get to come to the US and watch those who know what they are doing at the prototype event.

The saddest thing about this is a good idea wasn't invited because the system wasn't about ideas but game skills.

harveylacey, just because iLines has been a member of jovoto for a long time, you have absolutely no right to accuse her of gaming the system. Besides the fact that she didn't submit just one idea, she's been working really hard on this one to achieve that outstanding result. You might want to check her other ideas - she's won a lot of prizes and if you compare her with other creatives you will see that it's no guarantee for winning just because you've been a member for a long time. I think it's time for you to give it a rest - the ideas that came first won because after "cleaning the ratings" they were the ones that were liked by the majority. Having her idea stay on top throughout the whole contest just proves that. I also ask you to think first about the impact of your feedback before you leave a comment like this - you see iLines' reaction and I completely understand her feeling strongly offended. thanks for your understanding.

My respect to you, but you should have also said that iLines knew exactly how the "cleaning the ratings" works and she played accordingly.

Yes exactly, iLines knows that unfair rating is not tolerated on jovoto - so she did not bother inviting anybody to support her project or bash others - you're correct on that one.

Please do not be that righteous about it, just because the others were ignorant about your system it does not make one idea better than the other. Bashing or playing the voting game with pizzazz is the same thing, only more sophisticated:

My respect to you, too - I've been a big fan of your input throughout the whole contest. However, all I'm saying is that no one has the right to accuse iLines of gaming the system one way or another. The community has voted her 2nd place - if you and harveylacey don't agree with that decision, then you might have to acknowledge that your opinion is not the same as the majority of the participants here and finally give it a rest, instead of picking on the winners. Thx.

I have no problems with the winners, I have problems with your voting system. I told you that at the beginning.

Judges and advisors seems unwitting pawns in this game giving credibility to this venture.

Its a Win Win situation for all those involved in the name of the poor who as usual would remain poor, and are they got nothing further to lose?

The Design contest and prototype exercises would help siphon funds to the $300 Model/s that otherwise could have been utilized directly for the poor. Already only a few cents reach the poor out of every philanthropic dollar. $300 House removes those cents away from the poor.

As everyone from Designers to Professors and Corporations and NGOs would congratulate each other for the jobs well done, the emerging policy (and design) doctrines of $300 House appear to further undermine the poor.

The Design and Prototype Exercise and the resulting dialog (including 300 House Google Group) seems to be moderated only to highlight postings with media accolade and any funding potentials. What else do you expect?

PANDESIGN - I know Mak voted for your submission. Unfortunately, the rest of the judges did not. Take it easy, man. Anger and disappointment aren't going to help u get to the next level... And please submit your comments on our Google Forum or to me directly... info (at) 300house.com ..

Just saw your spiteful note on our Google Group. Sorry man, you are too full of bitterness. Take a look in the mirror and ask if this is what you really want to be... cheers, C

CSarkar - Mak who? Did you look at it? You did not and thats the point that the jury process is as questionable as the intent. It'd be easy to see in my entry that there is no anger or disappointment since it was not meant to win or lose. Not only you have fail to get the gist of affordable housing, you are unable to take the critic.

Winners #2, #15, and #16 all share the distinction of being successful Jovoto entrepreneurs.

What they also share is packaging skills. They've all taken existing ideas and packaged them to win at Jovoto.

If you look at their presentations you will not find one innovation. Just presentation, and maybe more.

The saddest thing is that above fact might be what the media finds most interesting about the $300.00 house contest. All the good ideas, the efforts of so many on the behalf of so many, and what does the media believe the public want?

Sad statement about the media and us.

So langsam reicht es. Ich lasse mich hier nicht auch noch beleidigen!

Mittlerweile bereue ich es wirklich dass ich meine Ideen in diesem Contest eingereicht habe. Es ist einfach nur traurig. Alte Männer, die sich wie kleine Kinder benehmen, denen das Spielzeug weggenommen wurde.

Ich kann mit einem reinen Gewissen sagen, dass ich niemanden gebeten habe meine Idee zu bewerten (weder gut noch schlecht). Warum ich auf Platz 2 gelandet bin? Keine Ahnung, fragt doch diejenigen die mich bewertet haben.

Denkt mal über Euer Verhalten nach!

(Übersetzen könnt Ihr den Text selbst - ich habe dazu gerade keine Lust)

@harveylacey noch ein Tip: Sortiere die Ideen mal nach Datum und Du kannst sehen, welche Ideen zuerst eingereicht wurden!

Hey iLines, you were faster than me ;) I apologize for harveylacey's comment, it was clearly completely out of place - I've checked the ratings thoroughly and I can confirm that your ratings were 100% fair. Congrats again on winning this one and please don't let anyone spoil this for you, you deserved it! Best, Nathalie

I agree the harveylacey comment is completely out of place and totally unfair with iLines.

Thanks Nathalie and flegido!

Hi everyone - I'm sorry for the delay in responding, but my task now is get a decent, open prototyping workshop going.

I emailed one of the commenters on this blog personally, but my message applies to all of us:

Let's just have some simple politeness in your comments on the Jovoto blog.... Whining isn't constructive. Instead you sound like someone who is just plain upset about losing.

Look, the few submissions I liked personally didn't even make it into the first 16. So please vent on our Google Group board (http://groups.google.com/group/300house), if you must... and I'll do my best to reply.

I have been working diligently to find a way to get the prototyping workshop off the ground - and that requires a lot of work, as u can imagine. If this was a propaganda show, I'd say "mission accomplished" and go do something more rewarding. But I'm not.

So let's work together.

Everyone, please take a deep breath, and let's be constructive. Bashing the winners isn't going to help anyone look good, man.

One more thing, if I may. The problem of poverty and housing for the poor isn't going to be solved by this challenge. And we certainly see that there were many other great designs that could have won just as easily. I want to encourage all these designers to continue. Just because you didn't win, doesn't mean your design wasn't a good idea. In fact, we would like you to continue.

We are helping businesses understand that this is not a competition. The market for the poor is so huge, that we want all manner of businesses to get involved, and view the poor as a customer. What does that mean? It means businesses need to serve the poor by designing products and services at high quality and at a price point that is affordable - extreme affordability (as Paul Polak calls it). If we don't invite businesses to solve this problem, we will never be able to scale our solutions.

So instead of us and them, you or me, let's think WE. What can we do to continue? If a model does cost $300 to build, let's build it. If it works, we will promote it as best we can, even if it did not win this contest.

Please let's get back to civility. Thanks to everyone that participated. We are now working on putting together the workshop, which may actually be a little more difficult that putting together this contest...

cheers, Christian PS - for what it's worth, both VG and myself could have spend the time we spent on this experiment on things that were far more popular and profitable. We didn't. We did this is good faith. We aren't doing this to win points with anyone. Speaking for myself, I think the contest was fantastic. Thanks to everyone that poured their hearts and souls into it.

We are just beginning, so join us, will ya? www.300house.com If anyone wants to be uncivil, feel free to send me an email at info (a) 300house.com


I completely understand your position and your reaction. But it might time to admit that Jovoto was not the right platform on which to run this contest. Whether you admit it or not, the perception is that the contest results were not merit based, but popularity based. And that is exactly what is getting so many participants so riled up. As such, it seems from the observer's point of view that some of the more truly workable $300 house solutions never even had a chance. Should I also mention that perception is that many of the top entries don't even meet the prescribed briefing requirements? It all seems very ad-hoc...

Even more lamentable was the the ubiquitous lack of participation by jury members throughout the contest (MBhoot's are the only comments that I saw). And I'm guessing that you never really got them to participate much in the end either, when it really counted.

If your objective is indeed to find true solutions for the $300 house, you will dig past the first 16 entries and find some valuable yet overlooked answers there. That was the goal of this contest, was it not?

CSarkar- You are the Judge of the Jury. You are the creator of the Forums and you moderate whether comments are spiteful or insightful.

You have an excuse for not being a housing expert. I don't. So I want to make sure you would not say 'hay nobody told us' You do have a very impressive list of judges and advisors but you discouraging them just like you label all your critic/commentators as uncivil.

What I want to be is to clearly point out that the '300 House' seems to be setting a course of action that is already proven impracticable. You don't have to build prototypes to learn that. As you suggest, look in the mirror, take it easy, get help, take time, don't rush. With these definite designs you are leading everyone back to square one.

I want to let you know that it appear to me that this prototype program seems beneficial only for people like you directing funds and volunteers to educating yourself.

If you consider the critic then now you know that you are inadvertently diverting corporate, media and media enthusiasm as well as finance away from the slums by misguiding a process that started with so much promise to actually make a change.

CSakar - With total respect for everyone, I still did not get an explanation as to how the Judges managed to get the identical votes to that of the public. Did the judges have any leeway at all?

JMKO - have a look at the ranking - by no means did the jury pick the identical winners as the community! Instead of 1-3, they picked place 6, 7 and 10! There were given complete freedom to choose whatever idea they liked best - and if anything, having the jury winners between the top 10 community winners only proves that the "wisdom of the crowds" was right in this case.

Do you mean that it is not the Jury who selected the 16 winners, they selected only 3 out of the 16.

No, the 16 winners are the community winners, based on the community rating - the three that are marked with a dollar sign (due to lacking a jury winner icon) are the jury winners, selected by the jury.

I missed this information entirely, sorry. I thought that the Jury had the role to certify the conformity of the entries with respect to the Mandatory Requirements, did anyone do this?

This was my first entry at Jovoto. Reading the Brief, which included Mandatory Requirements, sounds like an architectural competition. So I approached this as an architectural competition. However, architectural competitions typically require anonymous entries. I now realize this was more of a community endeavor. Still, I would have thought that complying with the Brief was required.

nsonne: You refer to the "wisdom of the crowds" as being right. But the crowds did not always vote based on conformity to the Brief/Mandatory Requirements. I, like JMKO, thought the jury was going to monitor/enforce the Mandatory Requirements. I didn't realize that there would be winners based solely on crowd appeal, and other winners selected by the jury. Thank you for the clarification.

Check building workshops coming up near you
It covers everything the 300 house prototype workshop aims to achieve.

A bit of homework would confirm these chosen designs are failures in the field (including those built in Haiti recently at far greater institutional support and unit costs- these models remain in experimental campuses across india or indonesia.

So why repeat the same??

Housing remains a huge problem for rich and poor alike, so far there is no innovative breakthrough. The Design Contest has reached to the same failed models, and prototype workshops with such designs in Haiti or in India would not make a difference.

The real solutions are hard and take long time - when or where we discuss those? There is no space or context created at the 300House.Com for open dialog.

With great respect to CSarkar and Vijay Govindrajan for encouraging everyone to look in the Housing for poor, there is a sincere hope, hope not more of the same.

Yes there is - please head over to the 300 house Google group to continue the discussion - sign up here: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/300house

Thanks for all your messages. I am in no position to provide jury statement, prototype workshop or further process. Consider this competition now over and I have following concluding remarks:

I made a mistake citing Nabil Hamadi in my comments. Thanks to ‘Pandesign’ for pointing it out. I meant Nadir Khalili whose life time of work on Super Adobe or Earth Bags has inspired several submissions. I’d also like to acknowledge ‘Teigan’ for his/her informed comments and personal feedback.

My current projects are in central India and Haiti but at this stage no immediate internship opportunities. Conflict, corruption in the field while funding/administration remain major hurdles for me.

I recommend everyone reading Hasan Fathy and ‘Architecture for Poor’ > Life and works of Architect Laurie Baker – note seismic and storm safety features > Follow BloKlok – IKEA+Skanska Housing System and Business Model > Tata Nano- A Small Wonder (about the $2500 Car) > Review SPARC India + Slum Dwellers International People’s Housing Saving, Loft Model

Above all walking around and talking with the poor or the people you are designing for should cover a wide range of available best practices as a basis for informed design decision process.. with that I’d encourage everyone to continue the dialog at $ 300 House google forum.

With warm regards

Makrand Bhoot

Thanks for that, Makrand. And just as a reminder for you guys, here you go with the link for the Google Group re: the 300 house: http://groups.google.com/group/300house

I think that to be a part of Jovoto you have to understand that it isn't what you think it should be and that's that. I am not surprised at the winners and if you are a member of Jovoto you shouldn't be either. If anything Jovoto is merely an exercise in creativity and if you win something having not won any of the contests before and with little to no community connections, well...quite a miracle then. Meanwhile enjoy Jovoto for giving members, even not well connected ones, the task of thinking outside the box and outside their focus.