Expandable house addresses urbanisation woes

The Future Cities Laboratory of the Singapore-ETH Centre has developed a house that can be expanded vertically by adding new floors. It is part of the Tropical Town project that seeks to alleviate the most damaging effects of rapid urbanisation in Indonesian cities such as environmental pollution, traffic jams, waste-clogged waterways, economic inequality, poor health and social alienation.

Dubbed the Rubah, the house consists of a fixed foundation floor and a roof that can be hoisted to accommodate new floors, writes Professor Stephen Cairns of the Singapore-ETH Centre. Residents and community groups will be provided with a core set of technologies to allow them to build the additional floors themselves and given technical assistance on passive cooling, harvesting rainwater, and generating solar electricity.

The overall goal of Tropical Town is to engage individuals and communities in developing their dwellings and settlements by providing them with capacity building programmes. Particular focus is placed on building autonomous communities and ensuring economic sustainability by introducing quasi-rural forms of economic planning, such as bamboo plantations, kitchen gardens and animal husbandry. It also seeks to integrate migrant groups by fostering community cohesiveness through the use of public spaces and opportunities for personal exchange, explains Cairn.

The Tropical Town concept aims to support a population of 10,000 people per settlement. Initiated by the Future Cities Laboratory of the Singapore-ETH Centre, Tropical Town was developed in collaboration with Universitas Indonesia (Jakarta), and the Municipal Planning Authority (BAPPEDA) in Batam, Indonesia. Cairn hopes the project will lead to sustainable settlements across the Indonesian archipelago and even in other tropical regions.


Pracitno, flickr/Creative Commons

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