How did you start the idea generation process?

I started the idea generation process by doing a deep research in the design challenge that I chose work on. First, I had to find out about what the target market was going to be; its demographics, educational level, typical lifestyle, aspirations, needs, wants, and desires. Then, I went through the possible drivers that could influence this project and the barriers that need to be overcome. In order to come out with the best solution to solve this challenge I had to choose between several ideas that first came to my head. There were some factors that I had to keep present while thinking in solving this challenge.

The reason I picked the $300 design challenge was that I was on vacations in Colombia and I had to choose a project or idea that could solve a problem. While looking at the suggestions proposed by my class instructor, I noticed that creating a house with such price will tremendously benefit to those people that are going through a hard time in their life because the lack of housing; specially in Colombia. From this way I could also buy the house’s materials in Colombia which is a lot cheaper.

The biggest challenge was that the house had to be constructed for under $300 and the structure should be no smaller than 2.2m X 2.2m. It needed to have space to sleep and cook, access to light, access to drinking water and access to electricity. It had to be constructed with durable material that will resist the elements for 50+ years; be secure from animals and criminal elements. Also, it needed to be resistant to fire, storms, earthquakes and other natural disasters. A good benefit was that the house need not have sanitation, because sanitation in a $300 house village will be housed in a centralized communal facility.

How did this process and your ideas progress?

When I started to research of the possible affordable and durable materials that I could use to build the house, the first thing that came to my head was of Guadua bamboo. A bamboo house is made of 80% natural materials. In addition to being an environmental friendly house, a bamboo house design can also provide a high aesthetic value and cool impression. Building a bamboo house has its advantage. A well designed bamboo house is resistant to earthquakes because it has a supple and flexible nature. Because bamboo is cool and does not absorb heat, the air will be free to circulate in the house through bamboo gaps. A great advantage is that since here in Colombia the bamboo has an affordable price and is easy to have access to.

How did this process and your ideas change?

In order for me to look up for new options; I went to a warehouse in Colombia searching for other alternatives. While talking to an associate at the store, he told me that the first choice for most builders when it comes to construction is galvanized steel. Galvanized steel is created by taking fabricated steel and dipping it into a vat of molten zinc. The result is a tightly bonded alloy coating that resists corrosion and rust. Galvanized material is environmentally sound and considered a sustainable resource. Because the materials last longer than non-galvanized metals, the carbon footprint is reduced.

Galvanized steel is strong enough to support most major structures. The metallurgical structure of the coated steel creates a thickness that withstands pressure and exposure. In fact, a steel framework structure derived from galvanized materials is one of the most reliable sources available. In conjunction with other galvanized materials, you are creating a long-lasting structure that resists corrosion and damage. Every angle of a steel piece that is treated with galvanized material is protected from the elements and is weather resistant.