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Daniel Aabak

Lauren Cales

Jesse Knapper

David Laskowski

Julie Luu









the home


final design

community needs



A natural disaster can have devastating effects on the people living there. The consequences and suffering is even more prolonged when it is an underdeveloped country with limited resources. This situation is very clear in looking at the earthquake that rocked the country of Haiti in 2010.

Thousands of Haitians are still in make shift shelters, and many are fully relying on handouts. Our goal with this project is to provide these people and others in similar situations, a means of getting back on their feet and providing for themselves. We are Victus, the Latin term for living/ way of life. We strive to build a $300 house with our knowledge of design.

What is the problem?

When a disaster strikes, the housing being provided to displaced people ends up dissembled and re-used for unsafe shelters.

Source (Jermey Cowart)

A disaster can happen anywhere and to anyone. There are families that have lost everything in a disaster and needs a semi-permanent housing to rebuild the community.

Our Mission

Funded by relief organizations, we will utilize new technologies and sustainable materials to design a $300 house for developing countries.


In our research phase, we started with compiling all the aspects of different housing situations that are being implemented in developing countries. Along with searching for an appropriate design solution, we will utilize new technology and look into sustainable materials for our community and house. Throughout the research phase, we also wanted to connect ourselves with the individual stories and do our best to re-live their experiences. These people have been given many handouts that are inappropriate or irrelevant to their lives. We want to provide an appropriate solution that they will fully utilize.

On January 12, 2010, an earthquake struck Haiti.

16 The $300 House Project

One and a half million people are living in camps. 100,000 are at critical risk from storms and flooding.

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Haiti Earthquake 2,000,000 homeless 3,000,000 homes destroyed 1,300,000 living in tent cities Haiti 01.10.10 1,000,000 homeless 3,600 died from diseases 70% living on less than $2 a day

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Source (United Nations Development Programme) Victus 19

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On the morning of January 12, 2010; this family was torn apart by large barriers of concrete as their house split in half and the buildings crumpled around them making a near impossible escape for the family. Stuck below the rubble layed Benoit’s father and younger sister. To save them, he jumped into the rubble, only to catch his foot and be sent tumbling down the rubble with his foot left long behind him. After doctor’s saved his life, and Benoit’s mother was reunited with him, the broken family was given a tent, located at Petionville, to live in while things were to be figured out in the city. After six months, the family decided to share their frustrations with Frontline for a new documentary on the current reconstruction progress in Haiti. The family has a hard time reconnecting and being able to mourn for their loss when they are left without a home, and are struggling to get through their day to day lives.

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5,000 The earthquake practically destroyed the whole city of Port Au Prince including businesses, homes and prisons. An estimated 5,000 prisoners escaped from the broken prisons after the earthquake, fleeing to a quick freedom. Now, a daily effort is made to track down all escaped prisoners and bring them to a new make-shift prison, all on a wanted list created from memory. In the meantime, gang members rule back out on the streets creating havok and clamor for all living in the tent cities.

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Victus 23

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non-government organizations are currently working to restore Haiti, but ultimately may be keep a whole country one step back.

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Community Needs

While a house was our primary concern in starting this project, we realized a community is just as important. These people and others in similar situations need more than a house to grow and establish themselves. By providing a school, garden, and other elements, these people have a much stronger foundation to build off and grow as a connected community.

Solar Energy

To utilize natural resources and new technologies

The Haitians use cell phones, lap tops, and other

we looked heavily to solar power as a means to run

devices that require constant charging. For this

our community. Solar power can be generated and

problem, we found a solar powered locker room,

used in a variety of manners. We found it useful in

where devices could be locked up and charged. Solar

providing energy, lighting, and clean water. A solar

cookers can be made with supplies available, and wood

water pasteurizer would be an investment for a large

gasification stoves can be built and ran off rechargeable

community. These are easy to install, operate, and

batteries. Another means of generating power is

come with a wood burning back up option. After

through harnessing the energy omitted from children’s

installation, these disinfect water for less than $.00125

playground equipment.

per liter. We found solar lamps as an affordable replacement to kerosene lamps, and large solar lamps would be effective in lighting the community to cut down on crime.

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This triad shows how the elements of our community plan would interact and allow for the people to go from a centralized infrastructure to a localized infrastructure. By providing a house and community plan, the people could then grow their own food, get jobs, and bring money back into their community.

$300 house



THE COMMUNITY Community plan for the $300 house project

KEY emergency house playground bathroom





water center

energy center


central house

The Community

The community structure implemented for many

The smaller communities will all each have their

of Haiti’s displaced insufficiently provides for their

own shower, rest room, and garden. These smaller

safety, and their chances to recover. The long rows

communities will encircle a schoolhouse, energy center,

of makeshift houses remind us of internment camps

water station, hospital, and community house. By

and prisons. By organizing the houses into smaller

providing education, gardens, and energy, the people

communities, these families will inevitably grow closer,

will have a better chance of not needing to rely on

and will be constantly looking out for each other.

outside governmental support.

Victus 33

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KEY emergency house playground bathroom





water center

energy center


central house

Victus 35

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Building Community vs. Pure Efficiency After finding a deep understanding of the needs and wants of Haitian Citizens, it became clear the need was for an efficient community instead of solely an efficient use of space. The Diagram to the right shows the space being taken up for the housing verses a better way to set up the homes within the community.

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Current Layout in Haiti

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Concept Layout

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The Home

In designing our house there were a number of goals we had in mind. We wanted the house to be durable enough to last for at least three years. Durability is a problem with much of the relief shelters currently provided. With an average family size of seven in Haiti, we wanted the house to be large enough to comfortably sleep a family of six. We lastly wanted it to be raised to protect from flooding, and have adequate lighting for day and night.

NEED: a strong, reliable, community-evoking structure

SOLUTION: the hexayurt

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Paper Prototyping The family size in Haiti is typically larger than the normal family size found in the United States of America. Since the earthquake created many broken families, creating a house with a designated number of people to fill it, did not seem like a tailored solution. Through paper proto-typing, it’s clear that two grouping homes can easily become one through the implementation of connecting walls. When homes group together in a circular fashion, a community center forms in the middle, creating a space for many people to reconnect, cook and reform their shooken lives.

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Community center gives a safe sanctuary and a place to reconnect.

Walls can collapse, transforming


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homes into


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Cholera and other water born diseases is a large fear in the lives of every Haitian. Through implementation of a water collection system, gray water can be used to daily activities, saving the amount of clean drinking water.

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A framework adds stability, ease of construction and a way to lift the structure from the ground in the rainy season.

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Small initial concepts showing the grouping options for each home.

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Exploration of a water capture system for each home to spare drinking water from daily duties.

Refined prototype with correct proportions and supporting framework.

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Half Scale Construction Half scale house 3’

4’ 2.5’






total cost

$150 Victus 53

Full Scale Concept

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Full Scale Construction Full Scale 5’


8’ 5’


roof and floor same frame and peices

frame work

total cost

$300 Victus 57

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Final Design Concept

The final design of the house will have a tarp to keep the structure waterproof. For security reasons, it will also have a window that can only be opened from the inside. If insulation is necessary, the people can utilize local materials such as rice hull. This house will fit up to 6 people, each will have a hammock as bedding that can be put up and stored during the day for more space.

We plan that the house will have solar light source, hammocks as bedding, along with secured doors and windows. The house will be elevated to help prevent flooding, and increase it’s lifespan. These houses will be laid out as shown in the community plan. This design strategy should allow for the Haitians to make a successful recovery.

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bamboo frame

rice hull insulation



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Victus 63

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This project opened our eyes to the grave scenario families across the globe face when a disaster occurs. These people need help to get back on their feet, and monetary donations and standard relief aid, are typically only temporary solutions. After conducting research, we knew our outcome should provide a family with not only a house, but also a community for them to build on. Our house design is durable, affordable, and very effective for a community plan.

$300 House for Haiti Team Book  

In the spring of 2011, five students took on the challenge of developing a solution for the ongoing housing solution in Haiti after it's sha...

$300 House for Haiti Team Book  

In the spring of 2011, five students took on the challenge of developing a solution for the ongoing housing solution in Haiti after it's sha...