$300 House Update!

The Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science

May 31, 2013

By Julia McElhinney ‘14

On May 10th, I attended a design workshop for the $300 House Project’s Urban Prototype at an Architecture and Design Firm, called Shepley Bulfinch, in Boston.

About the $300 House Project

$300 house design criteria

The $300 House Project is a unique, collaborative initiative that bridges the skills and resources of Dartmouth’s Architecture Program, Thayer School of Engineering, Geisel School of Medicine, Tuck School of Business and The Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science to design and develop the physical infrastructure necessary to support safe, healthy and culturally-appropriate affordable housing solutions in Haiti.

The $300 House Project grew out of a challenge to design a $300 house posed in an August 2010 Harvard Business Review blog by Tuck professor Vijay Govindarajan and marketing consultant Christian Sarkar. Over the last two years, Dartmouth students, faculty and staff have worked together to explore this difficult task. What exactly would a $300 House look like? Can we even make a house for $300? And where would we build them?

Through coursework, independent research and international conferences and design workshops, the $300 House Project has developed designs for extremely affordable (though not quite $300!) houses to serve Haitians displaced and impoverished by the 2010 earthquake.

The $300 House is exceptional in many ways, but in particular it takes a “systems thinking” approach to community improvement and empowerment. Under the guidance of Senior Lecturer Jack Wilson of Dartmouth’s Architecture Program and Thayer School of Engineering, the $300 House Project has grown, linking increased access to safe, affordable housing to healthier, happier and more sustainable communities around the world.

Workshop Goals

As a student in Dartmouth’s Architecture Program and a former Presidential Scholar on the $300 House Project, I was pleased to participate in the Project’s most recent workshop that aimed to refine designs for an urban prototype for a “$300” House in Haiti. Project leader Jack Wilson, Professor Vicki May of Thayer School of Engineering and several other undergraduate students were in attendance, as were designers and architects from the firm Shepley Bulfinch (including Shepley CEO Carole Wedge). Architect Elsa Ponce, who developed the initial $300 House Urban Prototype design, also joined us for the workshop...

...This was a very exciting process combining engineering, aesthetic, cultural and programmatic aims and ideas.  I was very impressed by how the whole team worked so well together, building off one another’s insights and innovations.

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