Architecture Biennale 2023
Essential Homes by Norman Foster
Prototype Essential Homes at Giardini della Marinaressa, © Chiara Becattini
Essential Homes is a joint research project by the Norman Foster Foundation and the Swiss building materials group Holcim. The concept for living space will offer refugees security, comfort and a sense of well-being. The team are presenting their current working design at the Venice Architecture Biennale.
Inside the prototype, © Chiara Becattini
The small dwellings are not only completely recyclable, but assert themselves with a sustainable carbon footprint, which is around 70 % less than that of conventional residential buildings. An expressly developed cement mixture with 20 % less CO2 was used for the outer shell, which consists of rollable concrete slabs. Both roof and floors are insulated with a great degree of energy efficiency: the former with Airium mineral foam and the latter with Elevate panels.
Thanks to a weatherproof EPDM membrane, also from Elevate, the house requires no foundation and is protected from moisture. A platform of recycled building and demolition materials provides a durable base.
The outer shell of Essential Homes consists of rollable concrete slabs. © Chiara Becattini
The concept is based on the idea that this modular, prefabricated home can meet the needs of the families and situations in any given location. Several modules can be arranged side by side, thus creating small communities and settlements. Paths of water-permeable ECOPact-concrete link the individual living units. Moreover, light-absorbent materials allow these paths to serve as a nocturnal source of illumination.
The Time Space Existence Exhibition shows the process of creating Essential Homes. © Chiara Becattini
Prototype in Venice
A prototype of the sustainable refugee dwelling is being shown at the Time Space Existence Exhibition in the Giardini della Marinaressa, where charts, time lines, diagrams and photographs demonstrate the context of humanitarian crises and the development of the joint project. Models, renderings, drawings and tables illustrate how Essential Homes could create communities.
Research project: Essential Homes
Architecture: Norman Foster Foundation, Holcim
Location: Giardini della Marinaressa, Venice (IT)
Exhibition: Time Space Existence
Exhibition venue: Palazzo Bembo, Palazzo Mora & Marinaressa Gardens, Venice (IT)
Exhibition duration: 20 May to 26 November 2023
Opening hours: daily 10 am–6 pm, closed on Tuesdays, free admission
Further information: timespaceexistence.com