Björn Rust (he/him) is a post-industrial designer cum researcher, innovator and educator, developing context-sensitive innovation practices for people, planet and beyond.

Recent writings

  1. Opportunity hoarding
  2. Doing away with bullshit
  3. The course of my life, so far

Core houses

Quinta Monroy by Elemental as constructed in 2004.

According to Lizarralde, Johnson and Davidson (2009),[1] core houses are post- disaster dwellings consisting of a small living space with basic plumbing and wiring, which are designed to constitute the ‘core’ of a permanent solution. This ‘core’ can be built on, under or around by the occupants as resources permit, so that the solution reaches permanent housing standards (Saunders 2013).[2] In this way, the core is an essential part of the permanent solution rather than a disposable step in the recovery process as in the case of emergency and many t-shelters.

Personalization & expression.

The authors acknowledge core houses are not without their limitations. The solution works best when disaster-affected families own their own land in an uncompromised location. As such, core housing is often most appropriate in rural and peri-urban settings. Even so, the authors provide a case study in Turkey of ad-hoc core housing in which landowners built a permanent house around t-shelters. In Johnson’s findings, the resulting homes became »... a source of pride for the family« (Lizarralde, Johnson and Davidson 2009).[1:1] This pride, ownership and accomplishment are among the reasons core houses are such a seductive solution. The disaster-affected populations are empowered to take control of their new lives in the way Davis and Alexander (2016)[3] suggest, while humanitarian actors can ensure standards are met quickly and at a relatively low cost in a way that suits their top-down mechanism.

Villa Verde by Elemental as constructed in 2013.

The images below demonstrate how Elemental’s Quinta Monroy[4] and Villa Verde,[5] constructed in 2004 and 2013 respectively, have evolved to become personal statements of the occupying families.

Adapting to occupant needs, from half a house to a house.

  1. Lizarralde, G., Johnson, C. and Davidson, C. (2009). Rebuilding After Disasters : From Emergency to Sustainability. 1st ed. CRC Press. ↩︎ ↩︎

  2. Saunders, G. (2013). Post-disaster shelter: Ten designs. IFRC. ↩︎

  3. Davis, I. and Alexander, D. (2016). Recovery from disaster. London: Routledge. ↩︎

  4. Elemental. (2004). Quinta Monroy. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Apr. 2018]. ↩︎

  5. Elemental. (2013). Villa Verde. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Apr. 2018]. ↩︎

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