Home cheap home: Vietnam architect’s quest for low-cost housing

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Home cheap home: Vietnam architect’s quest for low-cost housing
This picture taken on December 11, 2014 shows 48-year-old farmer Vo Van Duong caring for trees in front of a S-House 2 built in his garden in Vietnam’s southern Mekong delta province of Long An.

Vo Van Duong’s bamboo and coconut leaf house looks much like others deep in Vietnam‘s Mekong Delta. But unlike them, his seemingly simple abode is designed to withstand typhoons, flooding and earthquakes—and at a cost of less than $4,000 could herald a new wave of cheap, sustainable housing.

The natural materials on its surface belie the hi-tech internal structure of the farmer’s new home, which uses steel struts and wall panels as a defense against the elements in this natural disaster-prone region.

“The new house is safer, I’m not afraid that it will collapse,” the 48-year-old papaya farmer told AFP inside the house he moved into nine months ago.

Duong is testing a prototype by an award-winning Vietnamese architecture firm looking for low-cost housing solutions for communities vulnerable to climate change.

His S-House 2 was free, but if rolled-out on a wider scale could be sold for less than $4,000.

“There was water coming down from the roof in my old house. Sometimes, when there was a strong wind, I was so afraid the house wouldn’t survive,” Duong said, adding his new home was the envy of his neighbors.

The eco-home is the brainchild of Vo Trong Nghia, who joins other architects around the world in trying to fill a demand for cheap and easy to assemble housing—from flat-pack refugee shelters to shipping-container homes for tsunami victims. ….