Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The tunnel people of Las Vegas

Deep beneath Vegas’s glittering lights lies a labyrinth inhabited by poisonous spiders and a man nicknamed The Troll who wields an iron bar. The 200 miles of flood tunnels are also home to 1,000 people who eke out a living in the strip’s dark underbelly. Read more
- from a Nov. 3, 2010 article in the Daily Mail.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Houses of Cardboard

From the most basic shelters built by the homeless to architecturally designed homes, cardboard is being used as a building material in clever ways. This is part 3 of a series on alternative housing.

Cardboard is commonly used to construct very temporary shelters by homeless people. It is free, provides shelter from the wind and sun, has some insulative value against cold, and provides privacy. A house of cardboard is often very temporary because it is not waterproof and can be easily knocked down by wind or other forces. At right is a picture of a large cardboard shelter in Haiti built after the devastating earthquake in early 2010.

These makeshift structures are held together with tape, cable ties, baling wire and whatever other fastening materials can be locally scrounged. Pull a plastic tarp over it to keep out the rain. Cardboard seems to be everywhere. In Haiti, the boxes that the relief aid comes in are being used to make shelters.

Some artists and architects have experimented with cardboard as a building material. Artist Nick Sayers created an art piece/shelter out of real estate signs. It is called "To Live." See a picture here. The photo at left doesn't show the scale. It is actually quite large and has a loft.
Colin James of Stutchbury and Pape architects has designed and built a cardboard shelter kit that is actually waterproof. The idea is that it could serve as temporary housing in various situations. Read more on this.
Here is a link to a great blog post on The Octagon, a cardboard emergency shelter used in Japan, where they have lots of earthquakes. The post shows it being set up.

Last but not least, you can make the walls of a house from baled cardboard waste. They use waxed cardboard for this. This type of cardboard is hard to recycle because of the wax coating. Used as a building material the wax renders the paper more waterproof. I imagine it has pretty good insulation properties, too.