300House project winners

With roughly two billion people living in adverse poverty, a $25000 contest challenged the world to present concepts and designs for a house that can be built for under $300.

* Community Prize: $10,000 + 2 week prototyping workshop for place one to three
* Jury Prize: Jury picks an additional 2 participants to go on a prototyping workshop (workshop details to be determined)

The winners were announced.

300 possibilities was the winner of the jury prize

Second Jury winner was Hybrid house – DVS design was based on a hybrid structure of thermal mass and a lightweight configurable structure to react to whatever climate the slum dwellers are facing.

The three community winners were all variations earth bag buildings.


Earthbag is strong and simple. But the walls are heavy to build. And these heavy walls take a lot of care to reinforce for safety in earthquakes.

Bags and tubes can also make walls with other materials- straw and clay, or trash. Hyper-adobe is earth in a 12″ diameter mesh tube. Hyper-wattle are smaller mesh tubes filled with natural materials or trash.

Earthbag construction is strong and heavy, well suited to wall bases. Earthbags can be built thinner to reach window sill level than when used for the full wall height.

Hyper-wattle upper walls are based on proven straw-clay or light wood chip clay (leichtlehm or terre-paille) used for timber frame infill in Europe and the US. A matrix of mesh and light outer reinforcements will transform this into a structural skin material strong enough for modest-sized single story buildings with light-weight roofs. Placing these clay rich tubes on rubble and/ or earthen base walls gives extra strength and moisture-resistance and allows high-quality earthen wall construction at low cost.

This new wall system has a good R-value as well as being long-lasting, flood-resistant, and moderately resistant to fire, termite and earthquakes. With increased reinforcement it can be hurricane-resistant and appropriate for the highest seismic risk regions. And yet it relies on local, natural materials, with only the addition of light-weight (and easily shipped) bags or mesh tubes.

Step by step instructions with videos

2. Earthbag community (a similar concept to the first place winner) won second place

3. The Super Adobe project won third place

Superadobe (sandbag and barbed wire) technology is a large, long adobe. It is a simple adobe, an instant and flexible line generator. It uses the materials of war for peaceful ends, integrating traditional earth architecture with contemporary global safety requirements. Long or short sandbags are filled with on-site earth and arranged in layers or long coils (compression) with strands of barbed wire placed between them to act as both mortar and reinforcement (tension)

Project Ground up

Through microfinancing and budget of the $300 house (detailed in last section), two micro-enterprises relating to construction are created:

Micro-concrete Roof Tile Factory
Compressed Earth Block Factory.

These two micro-enterprises will provide 1500 compressed earth block and 250 micro-concrete roof tiles for each household, in return for 4.8 paid hrs of labor per family per week, the goal is to provide both free building materials for the villagers, job training, and small income for the families.


The house itself is a simple 180SF compressed earth block house on a 480SF plot containing an open courtyard. The courtyard could be used as retail, expansion of rooms, work area, etc depending on the need of the inhabitants. Chulha cooking stove (which reduces indoor smoke by 90%) is provide per family, and a concrete biosand water filter is also provided and shared between three families. We think that an individual bath / toilet is necessary as basic amenities as communal baths require a high maintenance budget, not to mention the dismal sanitary conditions associated. The scheme could accommodate an existing house even during construction of the new house, depending on the geometry and size of the existing plot. The use of local material and labor is utmost important to us.

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