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By Liz Stinson:

"What if you could create a structure that combines the efficiency of a tent with the comfort and stability of a four-walled structure? That’s what Dutch architect Pieter Stoutjesdijk of ECOnnect was thinking when he created the concept for an emergency housing shelter for Haiti.

Stoutjesdijk’s shelter is a digitally fabricated structure whose interlocking pieces can be assembled into an actual home in less than five hours. The construction process is similar to playing with a puzzle: Each piece has a specific joint, which allows it to lock into its neighboring piece. Builders simply have to place the appropriate pieces next to each other, and they’ll be secured in three directions, creating a strong bond. It starts with the foundation, then you the beams, walls and roof. (One problem that still needs work: All of this can only be disassembled from the inside.)

Aside from some installations and a screw pile foundation, the building is made entirely from the CNC-milled panels, which are created from agricultural residues and made waterproof with a nano-coating. The parabolically-shaped roof is the star of the structure, with its value being threefold: The double layer allows for maximum ventilation in the house, while the roof’s shape itself acts as a mirror in the concentrated solar power system, creating a low-tech, low-cost electricity generator. It also helps to collect rainwater and purify it through the passive solar system before being stored in a water bag below the ground floor. Stoutjesdijk estimates that the whole concept would cost less than $10,000 total to manufacture in developing countries, and would cost twice as much in a developed country like the United States." (