Essential Homes: the prefabricated house that answers to all needs 


© Chiara Becattini

“How can we ensure everyone, including some of our world’s most vulnerable populations, can have access to decent living conditions?” In response to this question, the Norman Foster Foundation introduced a housing prototype that attempts to address this crucial issue. 

The innovative project, which became a reality thanks to the collaboration of the construction company Holcim, was presented at the Venice Biennale under the title ‘Essential Homes.’ With the vision of providing a pleasant and dignified space for people who may live for decades in temporary settlements, this is a prefabricated home designed to meet basic needs in terms of safety, comfort, and well-being. 

But how can this house achieve all this? We’ll tell you all about it. 

Comfort for everyone 

Sustainability was one of the foundational pillars of this project. The central idea behind it was to open the door to the construction of social housing with circular solutions, energy efficiency, and low carbon emissions, demonstrating that sustainable construction is an achievable reality. According to the press release, the carbon footprint of this house has been reduced by 70% compared to traditional structures. 

Essential Homes presents a series of design innovations that not only seek to meet housing needs but also lay the groundwork for a more sustainable future. Its exterior is characterized by cladding made with concrete roll-up sheets that provide insulation, and safety at the same time. 

© Pablo Gomez Ogando

Every detail has been considered in this project. For example, the low-carbon ECOPact concrete paths connecting the houses reduce energy consumption and also control light pollution through the use of light-reflecting and light-absorbing aggregates. 

This prototype home prioritizes thermal and acoustic comfort through energy-efficient insulation systems. From the Elevate panels to the Airium reduced carbon foam, every detail has been designed to ensure a comfortable and pleasant indoor environment. 

Another important detail is that circular construction is central to the vision of this prefabricated house. To achieve this, Holcim’s ECOCycle® recycled demolition materials have been used to reinforce the foundation to promote material reuse and waste reduction. 

Norman Foster Foundation’s mission 

© Chiara Becattini

Norman Foster Foundation’s involvement in this visionary project has as its primary mission to promote research to anticipate the future of housing. With a dedication to improving society through architecture, infrastructure, and urbanism, this foundation seeks to inspire new generations to think beyond traditional boundaries and face the challenges of tomorrow. 

For the foundation headed by the award-winning British architect Norman Foster, the true house of the future is designed to solve existing problems and those that could arise in the future. Therefore, aside from providing comfort, sustainability and including ecologically friendly materials, the Essential Homes project is a great contribution and an invitation to depart from the current schemes established in the world of architecture. 


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