The 100% Leased House
The 100% Leased House
Owning a house doesn’t necessarily mean one also owns the materials the house is made of. With the People’s Pavilion, the designers and architects of Overtreders W and bureau SLA have proven it’s possible to build with borrowed materials. They’d like to take their approach one step further, and build a 100% leased house, in which the materials used remain property of the supplier during the entire lifespan of the house.
Right now, in the western world, building a house requires a lot of brand new materials: concrete, glass, brick, insulation, wood etcetera. All those materials are becoming increasingly scarce. There’s only a limited amount of resources on planet earth, and with the ongoing population growth and the speed in which we are used to put materials to waste, a lot of those resources will run out in the near future. This also means building materials will become increasingly expensive in the future. At the moment, a substantial part of the building costs for a house go into the materials used, in the future this will increase.
But why would I actually need to own the materials my house is made of? I don’t want to own bricks, bitumen, rockwool, wood or electric wiring, I just want a nice and comfy place that keeps me warm and dry. Over the last few years, experiments have started to shift from an ownership based economy towards a service based economy. Philips now offers ‘light’ instead of ‘lamps’ to it’s customers.
We think the same principles could work in the building industry. Suppliers of building materials can remain owners of the materials houses are built of. Off course, when you borrow or lease something to someone, you want to be sure you get the thing back in the same condition you gave it away. This means new construction methods need to be invented. Where a derelict house at the moment can only be demolished, turning the valuable building materials it is made of into waste, a house built of leased materials need to be made in such a way that it can easily be taken apart. In this way, the building materials remain as valuable in the future as they are at the moment of production. And this means the cost of producing these materials don’t need to be paid for at the very beginning of the building process.
Building a house of 100% leased materials also needs a different approach to the building process. First of all, for the building materials to remain unharmed screwing, drilling holes, sawing of glueing is not allowed. New construction methods need to be invented, and standard sizes need to be used. Second, the traditional order in which a building process takes places need to be tumbled upside down. Right now, an architect design a building, gives the drawings to a contractor, the contractor buys the building materials wherever she likes. When building with leased materials, this process takes place in a different order, moving back and forth between designing and searching for materials. This requires flexibility both from the side of the architect, the contractor and the future owner of the building. The architect starts by making a sketch design, and then immediately starts to look for possible suppliers of the materials he’d like to use. It might turn out the exact material he had in mind is not at hand, but a slightly different type or size is. So the design needs to be adapted a little bit. Designing a house and looking for the right materials to use become an iterative process.
In an experimental project, The People’s Pavilion, that was built in Eindhoven during Dutch Design Week 2017, Overtreders W and bureau SLA have already proven that building with borrowed materials is feasible and can lead to a powerful new design language. This 250m2 building was built only for nine day from concrete and wooden beams, facade elements, glass roof and recycled plastic cladding. Everything was put together using tensioning straps. There were no screws, glue, drills or saws on the construction site. After nine days, the building was taken apart and the materials were returned unharmed to the owners: wholesaler STIHO, urban mining collective New Horizon, inhabitants of Eindhoven and many more.
With the 100% Leased House, the same architects and designers want to prove it’s possible to make a comfortable house out of materials owned by the supplier for a longer period of time.