Hill architecture group shaping innovative temporary housing project for Haitian relief

Capitol Hill company Pb Elemental Architecture is taking Haiti relief efforts out of the box with plans for multifamily temporary housing units that can easily be assembled on site. Their Shipping Container Housing project (SCH) is a development plan designed by Pb that could bring much-needed relief to distressed earthquake survivors, now over a month without housing.

The SCH design is fabricated from a 20-foot shipping container and sits on four adjustable legs. It features a 500 gallon rooftop cistern to collect rainwater, a passive cooling design to keep from overheating and small photovoltaic array, which helps cells convert solar energy to direct current electricity. People can cook and sleep in these multifamily units.

They will be assembled in the US, constructed by Method Homes in Bellingham and the Crilio Mclain Project  in Hampton Roads, Virginia. Before they become dwellings, the containers will be stocked with food and medical supplies. Once in Haiti, the materials will be distributed and the SCH can be assembled and adjusted on site.

Donations can be made through their Facebook page and website (with PayPal), or you can purchase a t-shirt featuring one of two housing designs at $18 each. All profits go to the container construction and shipping costs. They are also accepting donations of materials, including used (non-toxic) containers, solar panels, cisterns, spray foam insulation, plywood, sinks and raw metal.

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11 thoughts on “Hill architecture group shaping innovative temporary housing project for Haitian relief

  1. My impression is that Haiti doesn’t have much of a container-port; the one single crane in Port-au-Prince is probably overworked in trying to get food and other supplies on shore. Good luck getting thousands of extra containers in there. Maybe a solution that could pack several home per container could be a better idea?

    Color me a little skeptical that Pb Elemental can wade into a design area that others have been working on for years (see Hexayurt and many others) and suddenly come out with a better solution. I’d vote for giving money to relief agencies like MercyCorps and letting them figure out what’s actually effective, rather than making a direct bet on a specific solution with your money.

  2. All efforts by all parties are pro bono. No overhead no fees whatsoever. The non-profit is SCH-Shipping Container Housing. We are coordinating with Mercy Corps on shipping their supplies inside the containers. Haiti has a huge inventory of vacant containers (imports more than they export), the idea is to have the majority of units build in Haiti, by Haitians once the first units are in place. If we raise more (or less than our target) everything is donated directly to Mercy Corps.

  3. Finally Pb gets some work, it’s been a long time. Sad it takes a major disaster for them to get business. If they want to help people out maybe they should start by paying their former sub-contractors, employees and consultants.

  4. So many things left unresolved.
    Yes, in a tropical, usually sunny climate like Haiti, those containers will really cook inside.
    Of course the nice sunshade/rain collector/wing thing on the top will provide some protection if the sun is directly overhead. But, let’s see a show of hands – how many of you have been through a Carribean hurricane? Remember what happens to wing-shaped things? Held up by two sticks? Maybe you can reel it all in, in case of a storm, but it looks like some real quick prototype development work is in order.
    Good luck. Those people need real help.

  5. All the well intended city folks are wonderful.

    But, here is wisdom an old farmer might offer.

    Haiti must rebuild with the rubble first. Yes all that debris can be processed into rubble masonary walls and floors. Any steel, pipes, any scrap metal can be used for reinforcement … or used as agerate in the new walls.

    Supplies needed from the outside, are good cement, gravel and re bar. Labor should be cheap and plentiful. A BIG PLUS, the bravery and strength of the Hatian people to go to work and rebuild.

    Ancient builders used the old city to build the new.

    Importing a new lifestyle and building process is not the immediate answer. Two room one story decent rubble masonry housing can be important….. along with new technologies, supplies of other materials and stronger standards.

    Mike

    (importing some birth control stuff might be a good idea too)

  6. chris, come on…

    first there were the tweets, asking people to donate – before it was announced Pb designed it. now that it’s out, you’re begging to the masses, ‘please pay for my shoddy designs (which won’t help as many haitians as straight up contributions will) cos the banks won’t!’

    how will a 500 gal. water tank help out when these are used/delivered during the prolonged dry season? how will haitians feel about a 4200 pound tank over there heads? it’s nearly the weight of an additional container (5000 lbs)

    where is the protected outdoor space?

    where is the potential to gang them up and form enclaves?

    what is H20? if you are gonna waste money on supergraphics, the 2 should be a subscript – for practical reasons, it should either be a pictogram or kreyole/french.

    unless the water tank is insulated, that thing will be a gigantic heat collector and negate what little ‘passive cooling’ you’ll get with the elevated roof.

    this is really basic stuff…

  7. Speaking of really basic stuff Mike, containers are made to stack one on top of another, loaded with cargo. Your calling out weight numbers is a pathetic attempt to veil your distaste for something other than this temporary housing project. Pb perhaps?

  8. mcmoron,

    containers are made to stack on top of each other, not spindly little legs.

    btw, it only takes 80 knot winds to topple a double-height stack of containers.

    you really think these abortions would survive a hurricane?

    please, this is an overpriced fantasy. too little too late. the pathetic ruminations of a bored college grad.