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Mon November 18 2019

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Modular proposal for shanty town housing

7 Nov Cheshire-based Project Etopia has built a modular home in Namibia with the aim of demonstrating how shanty housing could be a thing of the past.

Project Etopia CEO Joseph Daniels with the 'E-home' in Namibia
Project Etopia CEO Joseph Daniels with the 'E-home' in Namibia

The superstructure for the two-bedroom ‘E-home’, which has an area of 63m2, was assembled in the African nation’s capital city of Windhoek in just three hours.

It is claimed that it generates seven times more energy than it uses. It is the pilot project for wider ambitions to use offsite construction methods to replace an entire shanty town.

Each home costs in the region of £25,000 to build, including materials and local labour costs, while two-bedroom homes in Windhoek can sell for up to £103,0001. Local people earn £3,600 a year on average.

Nearly a quarter of Namibia’s population lacks access to decent housing, said Project Etopia, and in urban areas an estimated 29.6% of homes are improvised shacks. Many live in shanty towns, made up of corrugated metal homes, where the lack of formal infrastructure can make access to a safe water supply and electricity hard to come by.

Etopia’s passive E-homes, which combine much of the energy saving technology present in its UK schemes, are intended to provide affordable alternative to shanty homes, and showcase how modular housing could transform Africa’s housing stock over the next decade.

The home is expected to generate up to 20kWh of its own energy per day, but will use only 3k”h of that through smart lighting, a solar thermal hot water system and a mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR) unit.

The supply of homes in Namibia has lagged behind demand, with the current backlog estimated to be 100,000 homes, growing by around 3,700 homes a year. Between 1994 and 2016, the amount of shack accommodation increased four times as fast as modern housing.

Project Etopia CEO Joseph Daniels was in Namibia during the construction, and also spent time getting to know local residents. Six local people received training during the Namibia build, helping to install the panels. Project Etopia’s factory is based in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire.

Daniels said: “Our mission to provide affordable, high-quality homes that are constructed in weeks, not months, will revolutionise housing around the world, and provide the highest standards of living to everyone, not just the relatively wealthy. Globally, millions of people live in makeshift homes without access to clean water and sanitation but modular housing has the ability to transform standards of living worldwide. Project Etopia will be at the forefront of this shift and these homes are also passive and sustainable, allowing people to save on their bills too.

“Our development model doesn’t just provide the buildings. Our vision is to provide training and employment to locals, so that they can continue to build homes in their own communities and we began that important work with this pilot.”

The Namibia pilot — named ‘Providing Shelter’ — forms the first part of Etopia’s ‘7 in 7 Series’, which involves solving housing problems in all seven continents, with work already under way in the UK. Etopia’s plans include building flood and hurricane-proof homes in North and South America, introducing water desalination to Australian homes in the outback, and creating panel-based homes for Antarctica that are built to last. The vision for the project’s homes in Asia is to reduce carbon emissions, while homes in Africa and the UK will demonstrate how offsite construction methods can reduce poverty and inequality.

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