December 2, 2013
I-Beam Design’s Pallet House for Refugees

Pallets–as we’ve seen in previous posts–are a common product used worldwide that not only work well for shipping but also for building structures. Suzan Wines and Azin Valy, principals at I-Beam Design in New York City, created a self-build pallet house that can be assembled with 5 people using hand tools in under a week. The house design, conceived in 1999 for an Architecture for Humanity competition for housing Kosovo refugees, has been developed over the years to accommodate different climates and sizing demands while staying true to the goal of using readily available materials, remaining versatile, and maintaining affordability.

Nearly 21 million pallets end in landfills each year which can house over 40,000 refugees. Pallets are specifically designed for transport and delivery – so cost is negligible when carrying shipments of food, medicine and other types of aid to refugees. A 250 square foot ‘Pallet House’ requires 100 recycled pallets nailed and lifted into place by 4-5 people using hand tools in under a week… Tarps or corrugated roofing prevent water penetration until enough locally available materials like earth, wood and thatch can be gathered to cover the exterior and fill the wall cavities for insulation. The Pallet House adapts to most climates on Earth and provides a longer lasting, more durable solution to housing some of the world’s 33 million displaced people who spend an average of 7 years in refugee camps.

Click here to read more about the Pallet House, online at I-BeamDesign.com.