To look at a picture of this house, a few words come to mind, such as cozy, charming, unusual. It reminds me of a home someone may have on a lake at their camp, or a cabin anywhere in the world. And this house is, or could be, all of those things, but it is so much more. This house, and others like it, have an interesting story.
Let’s start with the materials. Do you notice anything different or familiar about the wood with which this house is constructed? A few hints? The material is very cheap. It is produced every day around the world for purposes other than construction.
Any ideas? These homes are called, Pallet Houses. The material? Pallets! Wooden pallets made and used every day for the transportation of food, medicine, and just about anything else that is being transported from one place to another.
I-Beam Design, an Architectural firm in New York City, founders, Azin Valy and Suzan Wines, introduced the Pallet House Project in 1999.
This is the interior design for a Pallet House Prototype built for Prince Charles’ Royal Gardens in 2010
The pictures of the homes show the beauty and creativity of I-Beam in their design, but why would anyone think to make homes out of recycled Pallets? The Pallet House was their answer/design for the solution of much needed transitional housing for millions of refugees in Kosovo and around the world. They were inspired by the fact that 84% of the world’s refugees could be housed with the pallets produced within the US in just one year.
Above: The design plan for a Pallet House in a refugee camp in Somalia in 2010
Below: A fully constructed house for Somalian Refugees in 2010
According to I-Beam Design’s website, “Pallet House is an inexpensive, efficient and easily assembled shelter for people displaced by natural or man-made disasters. A pallet structure evolves from emergency shelter to permanent home, with the addition of locally available materials like mud, plaster, concrete or corrugated sheathing…”
Examples of natural materials which have been gathered and used to insulate Pallet Homes
“…60 pallets nailed together makes an 83 square foot shelter.” With recycled pallets from a year-and-a-half of production in the US, alone, 33 million refugees could live in Pallet Houses.” These architects won an award from Architecture for Humanity for this design, and it could provide shelter for millions.
Plans for a Pallet House Refugee Camp in Somalia in 2010
Today these pallet homes are available for anyone. One can purchase plans for a pallet house from I-Beam Design, here, for just $75. Plans include: PDF plans, sections, elevations, photos, diagrams, renderings and materials/tools list.
Though there is no plumbing, depending on the builder or their resources, eventually stone or wood could be used to cover the pallets, or home insulation and wall boarding could be incorporated. Have you been thinking about a cabin or camp for you and your family? A real club house for your kids? Pallet Houses can be built with regular tools and plans include detailed instructions for assembly, so no experience in construction is necessary.
To give you an idea of materials needed in ratio to size of the home, I-Beam says, “A 250 square foot Pallet House can be built using 100 recycled pallets, nailed and lifted into place by four to five people, in less than a week.”
Spring is coming! Perhaps this could be a new project for you and the family. Not for you? Feel free to share this article with friends and family, as it could be just what they are looking for. Happy Building!