i beam palette house
original content
may 22, 2008
i beam palette house


new york based architecture and design firm I-beam was founded by suzan wines and azin valy in 1998.
they have received numerous awards, most notably, the first prize in the international open competition
for their transitional refugee housing for the returning refugees of kosovo, organized by architecture for humanity.

 
the palette house is an inexpensive, efficient and easily realizable solution to the problem of housing
people displaced by natural disaster, plagues, famine, political and economic strife or war.

 
 


image © designboom

 


image © designboom

 
the palette house is made of wooden shipping palettes. palettes are versatile, recyclable, sustainable,
easily assembled and universally esthetically pleasing. their transportation cost is negligible when used
to carry shipments of clothing, food, medical supplies or other relief aid. a simple palette structure
evolves naturally from emergency shelter to permanent house with the addition of more stable indigenous
materials like rubble, stone, earth, mud, plaster and concrete.

 


image © designboom

palettes or skids, typically used for shipping are inexpensive to make and can be pre-assembled by hand
at a rate of 500-600 per day per worker. they are readily available in most countries around the world,
and their size, strength and weight is specifically designed for transportation.

 


image © designboom

the evolution of one ‘standard’ shelter into a permanent home requires approximately 80 palettes
nailed or strapped together and lifted into place. total material costs including hardware equals approximately
US0. tarps draped over the basic structure prevent water penetration until additional materials are
collected. within about a month enough debris, stone, mud or earth from the immediate surroundings can
be gathered to fill the wall cavities and the roof covered with corrugated metal, wood or straw.
where severe weather persists palettes may be pre-assembled with styrofoam insulation, vapor barrier,
plywood or corrugated sheathing prior to shipping. as infrastructure is restored and cement or other materials
become available the filled palettes can be covered with stucco, plaster, or roofing tiles transforming the
makeshift shelter into a permanent home within a year or two.

 


image © designboom

this shelter project was part of the exhibition ‘casa per tutti’ (housing for all) milan triennale,
23 may – 14 september 08. it was also featured in the 7th international architecture venice biennale in 2000.

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