Shelter is essential and a house is a defining asset, but for the very poor, any material advantage has got to allow for incremental acquisition, serve multiple ends, and enable a radical variety of unanticipated uses.
We scale into the challenge thus:
What $20 invention would alter the landscape of both low-cost housing, and the means for attaining it?
While a basic dwelling can take many forms, there are structural, organizational and aggregational advantages to a rectangular emclosure, and a cube more so with congruent side, floor and roof dimensions.
We subdivide those square sides into three 1m x 3m panels, because many materials come in a meter-wide extrusions, and can therefore be integrated into our system, and because a door height requires a two-meter high opening.
The key to a $300 house is a $60 wall. And a $60 wall requires a building system that combines weather-protection, load-bearing, shear reinforcement and elective areas for door and window openings. Block walls do all this by granular stacking, rebar reinforcement and cement bonding; typical frame construction combines plywood or metal sheeting for closure and shear with stick reinforcement.
The DAY-TRAY will combine to form a home for $300: a NICECUBE. But it’s more profound value may lie to either side of that assembly, in the many roles it can play before, during and after its deployment as housing.
A single tray, at less than $20, will provide a means of transport and storage. It can serve as a lean-to or a BBQ. Three trays is both a roof overhead, a corral for livestock. Fifteen trays for a basic dwelling; 25 for an extended family’s permanent home.
Every time three DAY-TRAYS are consolidated into a 3x3meter square, a side of the NICE.CUBE is complete and useful as temporary shelter as the other sides are financed and assembled.