Innovating to Accomodate to The Housing Crisis

Nov 20, 2018 by Lisa Scarpa

Overpopulation is a term we have all become familiar with. The consequences that come with it threaten us everyday, we are told, and today our world holds the weight of 7.6 billion human beings. The current average population increase is estimated at 83 million people per year. That is, by 2100, we will share our planet with 11.5 billion people. As the population continues to grow, we will feel our planet being worn out, from consumption of natural resources to the housing crisis. How will we build homes without completely deforesting earth? Well, this is where creative minds and the innovative solutions come into play.  In addition to the pressing ecological situation and food shortages that could result from overpopulation, the housing issue is already and will continue to be a key concern. Real estate professionals are therefore closely interested in the evolution of housing. What are the solutions put in place today to fight against the housing shortage in large cities and to face the future?


Inventing New Homes

Having access to housing is something the UN considers an essential human right, yet as the population grows, the ability to ensure that every individual has somewhere to call home has become progressively more difficult. However, many innovative businesses are working to create more efficient, affordable and sustainable housing to take us into the future. 

3-D Housing

3D has already proven itself as an essential tool that adapts perfectly to the evolution of the real estate sector. Our abilities regarding what is produced using 3D printing and the opportunities created by this technology have increased tremendously and is expected to be an industry worth $29 billion by 2020. 3D printing has recently been used to create an entire house, albeit a small one, in 24 hours.  As a result, 3D printing may present a possible solution for rapid, affordable and efficient housing.

Video Credit: Vocativ Youtube Channel

ICON and New Story are successful. They’ve found a way to 3D-print 600 to 800-square-foot houses for $4,000 in under one day — and they recently unveiled “the first permitted, 3D-printed home in America.” New Story utilizes locally sourced materials for dwellings today, and they plan to do the same with 3D-printed houses, which will be comprised of mortar.  How long will the homes last? New Story said “as long or longer than standard Concrete Masonry Unit built homes.” They plan to keep homes simple to minimize maintenance costs. 

Video Credit: New Story Youtube Channel


The OPod

Hong Kong based architect James Law is hoping to build homes out of concrete water pipes and stack them atop each other. These so called "OPods" have a modern, industrial style to them which is designed to be customised by the future owner. The Opod Tube Houses come with all the standard features you would find in an apartment. This includes a bench/couch that transforms into a bed, a space for a microwave and a mini-fridge and of course a bathroom area at the end. There 100 sq feet tubes can fit 1 to 2 people and may be a more accommodating solution for the population of Hong Kong where most are living in “cage homes”.  

Tube House

Inside of Pipe House

Image Credit: James Law Cybertecture 

The Muji Hut

In the land of the rising sun, prefabricated and modular construction also has its actors: the brand, a cult favorite, Muji, known for its sober and minimalist designs, now offers prefabricated, eco-friendly and ultra-functional homes  at a reasonable price. The interior of the Muji Hut measures 100 square-feet, but has the luxury of  30 square-foot patio. There are sliding glass doors along the front of the hut, plus a smaller window in the back, which  allows for the inhabitant to have access to plenty of natural light and air circulation. 

Muji Hut

These structures are built atop a concrete foundation, with wood-charred cedar walls while the interior walls are untreated cypress plywood to give you the ultimate design flexibility. The mortar floor finish is durable and easy to clean, ideal for rustic environments and relaxed living. These huts are selling for just around $27,000! Seems pretty affordable to me. For the moment, they are only selling in Japan.

Frontal View of Muji Hut

Interior of Muji Hut

Photo Credits: Inhabitat


Develop and optimize the existing space - Raised, reversible, shared housing.

Inventing new ways to build is interesting, but what if there's no space? Well, we’ll just have to add on to what already exists. Developing on top of what materials we've already built may seem complicated, but innovators have come up with solutions. 

Building On Top

London has suffered quite a lot when it comes to housing shortage. According to Real Estate Developers, Apex Airspace, there are 60,000 places across the capital where two to three storey buildings could be extended using pre-made units. They have already developed one site on Abbey Road, Camden, and certainly aim to create 800 new homes, granting living space to more than 2,000 Londoners. According to Business Insider, property firm Knight Frank has also identified up to 41,000 rooftops on which new homes could be built in central London within zones one and two!! 

Unit onto of London Building

Image Credit: PropertyWeek 

Floating homes

For several years now, the development of containers has been democratized to respond in particular to the lack of student housing. Now we're talking about floating containers, self-sufficient, installed in disused port areas.

Home on the water

There are also floating houses, originally designed in wood to meet the rising waters, they are an ideal alternative to the missing surfaces in large cities. The concept has already been applied in Amsterdam, which saw the birth of a real artificial island, 15 minutes from its center. Aquashell, a Breton company, offers the same services. In the future, building in flood zones may become possible.

House on the water

Image credit: The Cross

Hanging nest-houses

Using the available space sometimes seems impossible. But if water's no longer an obstacle, mountain slopes could also offer great opportunities for innovation. Nestinbox is a Swedish company offering to build housing of about fifty square meters on the mountainside, largely inspired by bird nests. 

NestInbiox on the mountain

Image Credit: Nestinbox

These solutions are, of course, not without drawbacks: seasickness, fear of emptiness or visual pollution can slow down the urge to opt for one of them. On the other hand, innovation doesn't have to stop there.

Perhaps the answer to the housing shortage is at hand. Perhaps some of the innovations mentioned above will be ideal solutions for this growing problem! We're talking about a potential, pessimisitic future for humanity ... But it's not just about science-fiction. Coming up with dream solutions when these problems are already a reality is synonymous with voluntary blindness, in the face of what we should be focusing on: the lack of vital resources and the inequities that are already a scourge in many countries. Ultimately, humans have the potential and the intelligence to create sustainable technologies and a harmonious system for all. But innovating for the sake of creating a better world makes no sense if it's not meant to meet the needs of billions of people without exception. 

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