'The $300 House' Challenge

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

Current Rank: 13
13. Rank7.20 Rating70 Ratings11 Comments5918 ViewsSubmitted on May 26, 2011
Final rank: 13 of 297


NICE.CUBE is a proposal for 3.5x3.5x3.5 meter composed wholly of identical, but malleable, molded 1x3 meter trays. Our thesis is the only a building system distilled in this way can house a single family.

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NICE.CUBE MATHLink to third-party material or short usage description : ddd llc
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NICE.CUBE CONCEPT 01Link to third-party material or short usage description : ddd llc
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NICE.CUBE CONCEPT02Link to third-party material or short usage description : ddd llc
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NICE.CUBE VARIATIONSLink to third-party material or short usage description : ddd llc
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NICE.CUBE PLAN/SECLink to third-party material or short usage description : ddd llc


An investor asks,
What will $300 yield?
An engineer asks,
How much will $300 enclose?
An architect asks,
How many shapes can $300 take?

Our proposal asks:
What is your increment of change?

Shelter is essential and a house is a defining asset, but for the very poor, any material advantage has got to allow for incremental acquisition, serve multiple ends, and enable a radical variety of unanticipated uses.

 We scale into the challenge thus:

What $20 invention would alter the landscape of both low-cost housing, and the means for attaining it?

While a basic dwelling can take many forms, there are structural, organizational and aggregational advantages to a rectangular enclosure, and a cube more so with congruent side, floor and roof dimensions.

We subdivide those square sides into three 1m x 3m panels, because many materials come in a meter-wide extrusions, and can therefore be integrated into our system, and because a door-height requires a two-meter high opening.


The key to a $300 house is a $60 wall. And a $60 wall requires a building system that combines weather-protection, load-bearing, shear reinforcement and elective areas for door and window openings. Block walls do all this by granular stacking, re-bar reinforcement and cement bonding; typical frame construction combines plywood or metal sheeting for closure and shear with stick reinforcement.


The DAY-TRAY will combine to form a home for $300: a NICECUBE. But it�s more profound value may lie to either side of that assembly, in the many roles it can play before, during and after its deployment as housing.


A single tray, at less than $20, will provide a means of transport and storage. It can serve as a lean-to or a BBQ. Three trays is both a roof overhead, a corral for livestock. Fifteen trays for a basic dwelling; 25 for an extended family�s permanent home.


Every time three DAY-TRAYS are consolidated into a 3x3meter square, a side of the NICE.CUBE is complete and useful as temporary shelter as the other sides are financed and assembled.


Other entries in this project

Food, Water & Shelter IntegratedStraw Bail HouseEarthen ShelterTent HouseS.A.F.E. HOUSING (sturdy, affordable, functional, engaging)Low 4 unitNICE.CUBERemediate & RegenerateThe Poly-cube HousePort-A-PartmentInside the house, out of povertyframing 300 viewsInformally SustainedAloftThe Kit for LivingBamboo Icosahedron Pattern Languageliving tubeSimple ConstructionPrecast Frame HouseSELF Houseextendable BAMBOO