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Competition: Reinvent the Habitat, The Netherlands

An open international contest has been launched for innovative new mass housing concepts in the Netherlands (Deadline: 31 January)

The free-to-enter competition seeks ‘unique and revolutionary’ proposals for new urban housing concepts which could be scaled up for mass production. Three winning designs will be built at Delft’s Garden Village where they will be tested prior to selecting a single design for large-scale production.

The Reinvent the Habitat project, backed by start-up The House of Revolutionary Building (THORB), aims to transform contemporary approaches to affordable housing by focussing on nine key principles: location, social interaction, safety and security, living comfort, green facilities, finances, privacy, space and technology.

Urban Cabin by DUS

Urban Cabin by DUS

Source: Image by Ossip

Urban Cabin by DUS

‘We challenge you to present a revolutionary idea for home living,’ says the competition brief. ‘Go and lie in a hammock for a couple of days, or retreat to your attic. Come up with the best ever plan for home living in the Netherlands.

‘We’re looking for outliers, groundbreaking designs, out-of-the-box thinkers, free-spirited engineers and authentic creations. Anyone can participate. Join Reinvent the Habitat and disrupt the real estate business.’

Located between Belgium, Germany and the North Sea, the Netherlands is a densely populated country, home to around 17 million people. Due to its limited space and proximity to the sea, the country has developed a range of pioneering housing solutions including self-build and floating villages.

The latest project aims to deliver a revolutionary new approach to housing which halves building costs while also prioritising the happiness of the end users.

Garden Village, Delft

Garden Village, Delft

Garden Village, Delft

The top 20 submissions will be invited to further develop their concepts in discussions with the THORB team. Three overall winners will then be invited to deliver their concept at an experimental building plot known as the Green Village (pictured) in Delft.

Once constructed the three winning teams will then be inhabited and evaluated for the next three months. While occupied each scheme will be evaluated for its social value, cost price and scalability, compliance with construction regulations, and its technical qualities.

After the experimental concepts have been tested THORB will make a final decision about which design to present to investors and to develop further for mass production.

How to apply

Deadline

The deadline for submissions is 31 January

Contact details

The House of Revolutionary Building
Admiraal de Ruijterweg 545
1055 MK Amsterdam
The Netherlands

Email: hello@thorb.world
Tel: +31 (0) 88 – 06 06 061

Visit the competition website for more information

Exbury Egg case study: Q&A with Wendy Perring

The managing director of PAD Studio discusses lessons learned creating a floating house in rural Hampshire, England

Nr164217

Nr164217

How did your Exbury Egg project rethink approaches to contemporary housing?

Being limited by such a small space encouraged us plan efficiently, ensuring the Egg still provided for the essential functions of life; sleeping, eating, cleansing, working and relaxing. It was vital to PAD studio that the Egg nurtured a sense of well-being through comfort, warmth, ample natural light; fostering a relationship to its place, setting and offering safety from harsh external conditions.

To be successful, small spaces must be dynamic, encouraging its occupants to become actively engaged with the space. Balancing these requirements, while working to a very restricted construction budget tested our lateral and creative abilities. We believe that projects with the most onerous restraints can, with careful thought, produce the most innovative, beautiful results.

Exbury Egg by PAD Studio

Exbury Egg by PAD Studio

Source: Image by Nigel Rigden

Exbury Egg by PAD Studio

What architectural, material, visual and other methods did you harness in your design?

All PAD studio projects, irrespective of size, develop from a strong narrative. The Egg epitomises this approach and its form, whilst in some ways obvious, is rooted in place; inspired by the nesting birds who occupy the Salt marshes near Beaulieu. The Egg’s structure similarly explores the historic local marine industry, constructed using centuries-old tradition in timber boat building. It was built from materials with a low embodied energy, sourced within a twenty-mile radius, and fabricated by a team of local craftsmen in a nearby agricultural shed.

Exbury Egg by PAD Studio

Exbury Egg by PAD Studio

Source: Image by Nigel Rigden

Exbury Egg by PAD Studio

What advice would you have to contest participants on creating a radical new housing type for the Netherlands?

Dream big. Don’t limit your design aspiration initially by the brief. Really attempt to apprehend the project’s context and the people that you are designing for. It is not possible to offer a relevant or convention challenging idea, until you get below the surface of place, understand the issues it faces and its inhabitants.

Exbury Egg by PAD Studio

Exbury Egg by PAD Studio

Source: Image by Nigel Rigden

Exbury Egg by PAD Studio

Urban Cabin case study: Q&A with Hans Vermeulen

The chief executive and co-founder DUS discusses lessons learned creating a 3D-printed prototype house for The Netherlands

How did your 3D Print Urban Cabin project rethink approaches to contemporary housing?

It is a research into compact and sustainable dwelling solutions in urban environments. With its development we explored several architectural topics, such as circular production. The Urban Cabin was produced in an entirely circular manner. This for instance also challenges the notion of permanence in architecture, as the building can easily be shredded and reprinted into another configuration. 3D printing techniques can be used particularly well for small temporary dwellings or in disaster areas.

Urban Cabin by DUS

Urban Cabin by DUS

Source: Image by Ossip

Urban Cabin by DUS

Which architectural, material, visual and other methods did you harness in your design?

The design plays with the relations between indoor and outdoor spaces creating luxury within a minimum footprint. Entirely 3D printed with black-coloured, bio-based material, it showcases different types of façade ornament, form-optimization techniques and smart solutions for insulation and material consumption. In the green around the cabin, you can enjoy the sculptural printed bathtub, and watch the sunset surrounded by waving poplar trees.

Urban Cabin by DUS

Urban Cabin by DUS

Source: Image by Sophia Van Den Hoek

Urban Cabin by DUS

What advice would you have to contest participants on creating a radical new housing type for the Netherlands?

Be inspired by other disciplines. We learn so much from our industry partners who help in our development of new building archetypes, software, or printing materials. We are at the brink of an entirely new era in architecture, and the construction industry as a whole will change completely. Now is the time for radical ideas to become reality.

Urban Cabin by DUS

Urban Cabin by DUS

Source: Image by Sophia Van Den Hoek

Urban Cabin by DUS

Q&A with Henry Draijer

The co-founder of THORB discusses his ambitions for the contest

THORB co-founders Henry Draijer and Rick Van Den Bos

THORB co-founders Henry Draijer and Rick Van Den Bos

THORB co-founders Henry Draijer and Rick Van Den Bos

Why are your holding a competition for radical new approaches to housing in the Netherlands?

Building a house currently is too expensive. People spend a large amount of their income on their house. We think it is possible to bring down the price of a house by half (at least) and make houses affordable again. We see four ways to do this:

1. Make use of new materials

Most of the houses are still build with traditional bricks and concrete. We think we can build lighter, simpler, better and thus cheaper houses with new materials. A good and inspiring example is this ‘mushroom’ house.

2. Industrialise the production process

We are the only industry where the factory leaves the product. Let’s turn this around. Let the product leave the factory. And not use the same production process inside a factory. Think big, change the process of construction and make it far more efficient. We think Toyota is a very good example, producing 40,000-plus homes in their factory each year.

3. Change the lifecycle of a house

Most of the time, the ambition is to build a house that will last forever (or at least 100 years). What happens when you build houses that last for 10 years and will be recycled into new ones afterwards?

4. Actively welcome new revolutionary ideas and ways of thinking

We met a lot of parties that have good ideas but find that the traditional construction companies are not interested. Let’s start listening to these parties, welcome their revolutionary, smart or new ideas and disrupt the construction industry. Our goal is not to steal great concepts, but to scale up genius ones!

The Netherlands is a very small country. It would be stupid to forget about the rest of the world and all the smart people and organisations out there with even better solutions. That is why we are keen for international participation.

What is your vision for these new homes?

The most important is that the new homes have the potential to reduce the building costs by half. If so, it is crucial that the new houses eventually make sure people are 100 per cent happy with their new home. To determine this we have developed a model for home happiness, in which we define nine factors that determine what really makes residents happy. After joining the challenge, participants will receive a link to a wizard where they can find out how their idea scores on home happiness. Besides this financial and social feasibility, we also pay attention to feasibility in terms of legislation and production.

What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?

The challenge is open to every person or organisation with a good idea, no limitations. So we hope everyone with a good idea will join our challenge.

As I said before, our goal is not to steal great concepts, but to scale up genius ones. If the test stage makes it clear we’re onto something potentially successful, then part of the process will be that we jointly decide how to work together to scale the concept. From where we’re standing now that could take a variety of forms. And of course, people are welcome to send us or request an NDA (non-disclosure agreement).

What to win? If participants make it to the final three they will receive the best possible assessment of their concept and by the end of the process they will at the very least know what to do in order to make the concept scalable. But there’s more, because if we jointly come up with a concept that really is scalable, then that’s what we will do as soon as possible: scale up!

Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?

We focus completely on our Reinvent The Habitat Challenge. After we decide which product we are going to scale up, of course we keep on developing our products. Maybe a new design challenge is a good way to do so. We do not have any concrete plans for new design challenges though.

Are there any recent innovative housing ideas you have been impressed by?

There are a lot of impressive ideas, some impressive ideas are:

• Futuristic fungus tower in the centre of New York 

The stones used to build the sustainable pavilion are made of 100 per cent organic material such as corn waste and mycelium (the network of a mushroom’s root-like fibres). A spectacular construction of cylindrical components with fungus growing on the corn waste results in flexible ‘mushroom walls’.

• Wikkelhouse: 24 layers of carton form a cosy house in 24 hours

This cosy little house is made in a single day by wrapping 24 layers of corrugated cardboard around the wooden frame of the house. Wikkelhouse addresses the flexibility of living. The bungalow with its modular design can be extended with a bathroom, kitchen or office space in no time. It’s easy to move and has a lifespan of at least 50 years!

• The Domestic Transformer: 24 rooms in a tiny house

Architect Gary Chang grew up in a tiny little apartment in Hong Kong. His parental house later served as his inspiration for The Domestic Transformer: an ingenious 32m² house that makes the most of every single inch of space. With the help of sliding walls, Chang succeeded in creating 24 rooms. The core values in the apartment are user-friendliness, affordability and efficiency.

• Minimalistic living in urban living concept Breathe

The tiny translucent residential tower ‘MINI Living Breathe’, which is a more than adequate response to the increasing lack of suitable living space in busy cities. The main idea was to create an attractive place to live in a natural environment and come up with smart solutions to minimise the ecological footprint.