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“Casa Buna”: Innovative Housing for Low-income Families

“Casa Buna” prototype build in ArcelorMittal’s facility in Romania.

 
 

The “Casa Buna” Team.

 

Home is vital to every human being, people need protection from the cold and heat, as well as a simple place to come and rest after a hard working day. Nevertheless, more than 1.6 billion people in the world lack simple shelter.

One out of three urban households in the developing countries lives in poverty, and over 100 million people worldwide are homeless. According to the UN estimates, to solve the growing housing need, 21 million housing units need to be constructed annually.

Habitat for Humanity has been building simple, decent homes with volunteer labor and families in need for 33 years. It has been always keeping affordability in mind, not to force budget-constrained families spend fortunes on repaying their mortgages. To achieve this goal, Habitat has been trying innovative construction solutions and durable materials. For example, in Kyrgyzstan, Habitat used locally grown cane reed as frames for houses. In Tajikistan, utilized mulberry branches for wall strengthening.

In Romania, Habitat for Humanity has started working with ArcelorMittal on developing light steel frames that are easily assembled into a house that is also energy efficient and environment friendly. Three months of labor resulted in the “Casa Buna” prototype, translated as “Good House” from Romanian. It was assembled at the factory in Pantelimon, Bucharest. The model uses a simplified light steel design developed by ArcelorMittal Research and Development in Liege, Belgium.

A two-floor house can accommodate four families. The steel frame structure is made of cold-formed profiles. The whole system can be assembled by unskilled volunteers and has at least a 20-year life span. At the same time, the “Casa Buna” prototype is engineered in accordance with the European and Romanian construction codes.

Traditionally, steel roofs have been quite popular with Romanians and ArcelorMittal has been offering various roofing products at the local market. The steel design is environmentally friendly, as steel frames last much longer than similar structures from other materials. Afterwards, it can be deconstructed, and all materials recycled for other needs avoiding depletion of natural resources. Moreover, steel frames have better thermal performance. Hence, in cold winters that have now become frequent quests in Europe, the budget-constrained families will not be faced with huge heating bills.

“The leadership of the ArcelorMittal Foundation in entering a new strategic partnership with Habitat for Humanity is an example we hope other companies will follow.  “Casa Buna” represents not only a new model of home construction to provide decent and affordable shelter for low income families, but also an example of how the corporate and non-profit sectors can work together to fight poverty housing”, said Don Haszczyn, area vice president for Habitat for Humanity International.

Later this year, the prototype will be tested and build for the first time at a real building site in Comanesti, Romania. There, Habitat for Humanity, with the help from ArcelorMittal, plans to complete three more “Casa Buna” homes for low-income Romanian families.

What is next?
Habitat wants people not only to read about poverty housing but do something to fight it. You can support Habitat’s work in Slovakia in a number of ways. Here are some examples:

• Visit our donations page to support projects in Romania.
• Go to country profile pages to learn about other programs in this country.

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