Building from End-of-Life: An Alternative Approach for Low-Cost Urban Housing

Felix Raspall, Mohit Arora

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Rapid expansion of cities poses a very hard challenge to provide adequate housing for the poor, while its social and environmental pressures demand alternative approaches to low-cost housing. An answer to the challenge of housing for poor citizens can come from cities themselves. Urban centers are concentrated nodes where vast quantities of materials and energy are consumed in constant cycles of construction, operation and demolition. Strategically intervening in the urban metabolism can help to secure very low-cost or even no-cost construction materials while reducing the environmental stresses due to resource extraction, leading to more sustainable cities. Our research investigates the possibilities of tapping into the life cycle of construction materials as a source of unexploited building components for low-cost housing. In the informal city, a market of salvaged materials is already in place. However, in the developed world, reuse practices in construction are typically dismissed. Here we present the current building demolition methods in Singapore and a proposal to divert resources that currently go to landfill, to produce low-cost housing for developing nations. The research has two components. First, study the flow of materials, processes and related stakeholders in construction and demolition activities in Singapore, with focus on their economic and environmental dimensions. Second, we work with housing development agencies, primarily Habitat for Humanity, in the design of low-cost housing units using reclaimed building components with minimum cost. This research contributes with strategies to secure very low-cost housing units using reused building components, focused on the functional, aesthetic and economic aspects. In this way, it proposes and supports an alternative approach to the urgent urban housing problems through sustainable end-of-life buildings management, promoting a more global-inclusive model of urbanization.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventNo Cost Housing Conference - Zurich, Switzerland
Duration: 30 Jun 20161 Jul 2016


ConferenceNo Cost Housing Conference
Internet address


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