Innovation That Matters

Crowdsourcing plans for a $300 house

Property & Construction

As we’ve seen, the crowds can be called upon to brainstorm solutions to tricky economic and environmental problems. Now we’ve spotted an effort that aims to harness collective problem-solving to tackle housing for the poor. The $300 House is a project aiming to design functional housing for some of the world’s poorest. Launched late last month, the $300 House project aims to “design a simple dwelling that can be constructed for under $300 which keeps a family safe, allows them to sleep at night, gives them both protection from the elements and a sense of dignity,” in the site’s own words. The project actually began as a challenge to businesses in a Harvard Business Review blog post last year by Dartmouth professor Vijay (V.G.) Govindarajan and co-author Christian Sarkar. Today, however, it’s sponsored by Ingersoll Rand’s Center for Energy Efficiency and Sustainability. Through May 26, designers, architects, students and others can all submit their designs to the site, which is hosted on the jovoto platform. Winners will be selected by the online community and an expert panel of judges. Prizes worth a total of USD 25,000 will be awarded to winners, including a two-week workshop to build actual prototypes of the $300 house and operationalize a social venture to manufacture and distribute it. Govindarajan explains: “We want designers and architects to see this as a business opportunity, not as a charity case study. This design challenge will help us get some innovative people to focus on a vast un-served market waiting to be created across the world.” Some two billion people around the globe currently suffer from a lack of housing, the project says. Social entrepreneurs: this one’s for you! (Related: New building block design serves multiple purposesWaterproof jacket, tent and sleeping bag in oneNewspaper jacket keeps homeless people warm.) Spotted by: Katherine Noyes



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