Summary: The design challenge looks for ideas to design an incremental house model that can be replicated in large numbers and grouped to create a low-income housing colony. It is a call for housing solutions that not only resolve today’s concerns and necessities, but they allow for extension, in the event of economic progress or improvement in the state, over time. The participants must make sure that the housing is adaptable to the climatic, economic, and social conditions of the area.



Urbanization has caused haphazard development and housing crisisFig: 1 – Fast-paced city landscape is dynamic.

Urbanization and quality of living

Increasing health concerns, economic disparity, and even social and environmental calamities have not slowed down the rate of urbanization in third-world countries. Poverty, hunger, and safety are problems caused by broken infrastructure and lack of money and resources. Urban development in cities is rapid, unplanned, and unsustainableleading to the emergence of various health hazards.

Housing is a prominent facility that is not available to many. The land is a limited resource which often leads to high-density developments with substandard living experiences. The quality of life of the poor factions of society is affected the most in such scenarios. The housing problem is unending, due to the inability of infrastructure to adapt to the ever-changing dynamics of the economy, people, and cities.

Can the urban fabric keep up with the changing landscape of cities?

Economic and incremental housing solutions are needed in citiesFig: 2– Poor people in cities struggle to find healthy places of shelter.

Need for flexible housing solutions

Change in society is propelled by changing the needs of people. Yet while designing, a top-down approach is used wherein the change is a bottom-up phenomenon. Ideally, housing must fulfill the needs of the inhabitants, on a societal, cultural, and environmental levelIn real-life scenarios, an important factor that affects housing is finance. 

The budget becomes an issue when providinghousing options for low-income groups of people. An articulate effort must be put in, to provide quality spaces for such users by making the most of the money allocated. There is constant evolution in society standards, so people must have the ability to transform their living conditions, as per their access to resources and environmental conditions, at any given time. 

Incremental housing can help to promote convenient design solutions for poor sheltering conditions. It provides the opportunity to improve urban conditionsby creating a framework that emphasizespublic participation for the betterhood of communities

Slums have poor social and unhygienic living conditions that ban be improvedFig: 3– Slums develop as a result of urban sprawl and poor planning which leads to temporary shelters and poor living conditions.


Brief of the Competition

Brief: The challenge is to design an incremental house model that can be replicated in large numbers and grouped to create a low-income housing colony.

The incremental housing unit designed must be modular with comfortable physical spaces. Possible negative implications of self-construction on the inhabitant’s standard of living and the environment must be anticipated. 

Privacy and interaction must be guided in the layout as per the nature of the activity. The balance between aesthetics and functionality must be achieved. The design must establish some harmony or connection with the surrounding environment.

We call for housing solutions that not only resolve today’s concerns and necessities, but they allow for extension, in the event of economic progress or improvement in the state, over time. The participants must make sure that the housing is adaptable to the climatic, economic, and social conditions of the area.


Design Objectives

Expandable – The configuration of the housing design must be flexible, allowing the building to expand, as and when required by the user. 

Positive Finance – The requirements must be fulfilled by making the most efficient decisions with regard to economic aspects. The extension must be a value for money addition.

Evolutionary Apartment (75%) – Every housing unit must have an individual toilet and kitchen. The design result of the extended houses is to be documented.

Outdoor Spaces (25% Unclaimed) – Supplemental spaces for communal activities to be given.

Upgradable  – The supporting framework that will be required for the extension in the future must be provided. 


Tel Aviv, site for Build-Up incremental low-income housing competition

Turkey is a developing economy that has seen tremendous growth in the last decades. Despite this, the housing sector in the region faces critical issues, especially for lower-income groups. The housing market is flooded with international buyers and high-income housing projects which leaves little or no room for affordable housing units. 

The site is located in Tel Aviv. The city is known for its colorful culture and architecture but the underlying problems of local communities are rising. Inflation in mortgage and housing rates and scarcity of social housing has led to the creation of unsafe slums in the city. These slums are occupied by immigrants or poor locals living in fear, uncertainty, and unhygienic conditions. 

The site is in the neighborhood of Neve Sha’anan. The land parcel consists of a community garden, a dog park, and a fitness center. It is adjacent to a huge ground-level car park. The site is surrounded by a low-rise mixed neighborhood. 

Site area = 10,353 sq.m

Phase I construction site area = 5031 sq.m

Height restriction =  6 metres 

Maximum Builtup Area (for housing) = 3031 sq.m

Circulation = 1000-1500 sq.m

Coordinates = 32°03’37.7″N 34°46’42.6″E

Area Programme

The brief is to design a colony for 400 people. Each unit is to be designed for a single-family. A total of 100 units are to be located on-site. Each dwelling will be owned by one person. 

The areas for sleeping, bathrooms, and kitchen can be designated by the participants. Areas for social activity can also be designated on-site to promote communal interaction. More functions can be added to the incremental model. 

The plot allocated to one dwelling must consist of areas that would be needed for future expansion. The plot for one dwelling will not be cut down for ownership by multiple people. 

The stages of the incremental house module have to be detailed out along with its technical details. Services like supply, drainage, and waste management must be built inadequately. 


PROJECT I: Architects Propose 120 Incremental Social Houses

The project is located on a 3.7 hectares plot of land in the Belén district in the city of Iquitos. The plan is to build 120 incremental homes that alternatively allow users to modify and expand it according to their needs and economic means. In short, a home with a solid nucleus formed by a structure that supports changing activities.

modular and flexible incremental housing stagesFig: 1 – The progressive stages are modular and flexible and permit the owner to choose their use and the type of material for the finish. (Credits: Rafael Arana)

site for 120 social incremental housesFig: 2 – The concept of the housing module is based on providing a nucleus of noble material with basic services, which is complemented by a wooden structure that will eventually contain the rest of the rooms. (Credits: Rafael Arana)

The aim was to create innovative and economical proposals that have the possibility to grow, with a bioclimatic and eco-friendly focus. The technical objectives fulfilled are modular, economical, progressive, and easy to construct. 

The houses are located in such a way that they contain public spaces, creating a large recreation area with an appropriate scale for the neighbors, making it a safe place, while also allowing them to socialize with each other, and identify with their neighborhood. 

Middle-income housing modulesFig: 3 & 4 – The one-floor module was proposed as a single-family home; and the two-floor model as a single, or multi-family detached house. (Credits: Rafael Arana)


Settle 100 families in 5000 square meters of land. US$7,500 subsidy for one unit of 30 square meters.

Instead of designing a small house, they provided a middle-income house, out of which just a small part was built. This meant a change in the standard: kitchens, bathrooms, stairs, partition walls, and all the difficult parts of the house had to be designed for the final scene of a 72 sqm house.

Fig: 5– Incremental housing concept (Credits: Diagrama)

Improvements done by residents in incremental housingFig: 6– (left) First stage house provided to the users built by the architect. (right) The final expanded house is built by the users. (Credits: ELEMENTAL)

You can see the detailed competition information here!

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