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Articles by Tim De Chant

Tim De Chant is the creator of Per Square Mile and an environmental journalist. You can also find him on Twitter.

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The winning design.Photo: Ying chee ChuiLots of things cost $1,000 — a sweet new bike or a svelte 11″ MacBook Air, for instance. But a house? Even that brilliant 16-year-old punk who built a tiny house in his parents’ backyard had to shell out $12,000 for his shack. I must be kidding, right?

Well, sort of. Two years ago, MIT architecture professors launched the 1K House Project, a design competition challenging students to come up with a home that could be built for $1,000. 14 designs emerged from the studio, and Ying chee Chui’s Pinwheel House came out on top.

A prototype of Chui’s house was recently completed in Mianyang in the Sichuan Province of China. The bill rang up to quite a bit more than $1,000: It cost $5,925 in total. But the project suggests that with a little investment, we can make well-designed, structurally sound homes available to even the poorest of the poor — a promising sign in a world where, if things continue as they’ve been, 900 million people will live in slums by 2020.

The Pinwheel House consists of four rectangular rooms arranged like a pinwheel around a square central courtyard. And the ho... Read more

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