A new Pre-fabricated house developed in conjunction with the Bauhaus University in the city of Weimar has been designed to change the look of shanty-towns across the globe, which mostly look the same; rickety zinc huts thrown together as rudimentary shelter for the destitute.
Gerd Niemöller, the designer of the cellulose material, said in an interview, "From the very beginning, our goal was to create practical, environmentally sustainable, and, most importantly, cheap living quarters for the slums of the Earth." Niemöller says that he envisions this product being developed in the countries where they will be needed providing much better insulation, sturdiness and very flexible making it optimal in areas with potential for earthquakes. Niemöller also added that the sticker price for the components for the 387.5 square foot homes wont be more than $5,000 and he already has a short list of countries who have expressed interest, Nigeria and Zimbabwe being a few.
This is a very noble effort but there are some fundamental problems. First of all, $5,000 is not very cheap at all. If this is to be a solution to the kind of shanty slums in South Africa for example, it has to be a relatively cheap option. Residents of these poor neighborhoods use zinc not because of any great aesthetic qualities, that stuff is terrible and rusts fast, but because it is readily available and very inexpensive. Most times, people find that stuff for free and bring it back home to use as housing material. If they all had $5,000 to spend i think their circumstances would be remarkably different. I mean, $5,000 comes out to over 500,000 Nigerian Naira (about a two month salary for a mid-level professional) and I guarantee you it will get you much more in Nigeria than it would in the United States. Also, if Niemöller and "The Wall AG, who hold the patent for the design, think that the federal government of these countries are going to purchase enough homes for every resident in every slum in their respective countries, they are very much mistaken. Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe has better things to do like embezzling and continuing to destroy his country's economy.
Image obtained from Speigel international Online.
For more information, check www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,601067,00.html