Project R (The Rubble House)
Using destruction rubble for reconstruction, Project R is an architectural concept that can revolutionize the speed, mode, cost, and socioeconomics of community recovery in disaster-stricken rural areas around the world. Project R was developed in response to the urgent need for housing in Lebanese villages targeted by air raids in Summer 2006. Widespread destruction and substantial leftover debris created environmental, socioeconomic, displacement and logistics issues: the need to re-home the displaced, to repair destroyed infrastructure, to remove and dump rubble, and to transport raw material for reconstruction. For these multiple problems, characteristic of all disaster areas, Project R offers a single solution. Project R involves entrapping rubble in wire mesh cages and developing the Gabion system normally used for retaining walls into a simple architectural system, in order to build, at a fraction of the cost of prefabricated houses, single-story, multi-use structures via a method that requires minimal time (2-3 weeks), raw material, training, or equipment, and that can employ the local community itself. By eliminating the need to move and dump rubble and instead maximizing its use in place as raw construction material, Project R bypasses transportation difficulties posed by destroyed roads infrastructure and can be propagated quickly in a modular fashion with the help of the local civil community. Project R is perfectly compatible with the disaster site for which it was conceived - and for any rural disaster site subject to earthquakes or war (the system is not intended for use in urban multistory structures). Project R’s simple construction method ensures short construction time. Rather than needing specialized skilled manpower, the building process can involve the civil community. Only medium to light civil equipment are needed to collect, move, fill and lift the ‘Gabion’ modules. Minimizing the use of new materials, it is cost-effective, comparative in cost and performance to available quick temporary systems on the market (40%-50% less than prefabricated concrete or steel-insulated porto-cabin units). The system’s vertical structure is composed of steel mesh casing (Gabion) modules, each filled with one meter cube of concrete rubble. Modules are lined with gypsum boards from the inside; incorporating vertical modules for windows and doors. Gypsum is used for internal space subdivision. The system floor is the same as the vertical elements, complemented by pouring an 8cm slab as finish. The system roof is out-of-factory modular lightweight steel insulated sandwich panels over a primary light steel structure. There is no need for an external finish: the walls can be covered with greenery. From the remains of a 150m2 house, a 78m2 house can be built. The units are designed to provide full protection from the natural elements, and the prototype built has passed that test, performing mechanically on heat exchange and water infiltration levels. The units are flexible, capable of spatially accommodating different design needs and functional allocations such as clinics and schools or any communal activity. Despite being designed for temporary relief, the units are durable. Environment-friendly, they embody an example of green and sustainable architecture. The units can later be dismantled for use in the rehabilitation of old quarries, riverbanks, as retaining walls or bridge embankments. By identifying a method for using Gabions as a structural element, Project R offers a new architectural solution for disaster relief that is efficient to construct, that creates employment opportunities, and that offers the multi-use functionality needed for comprehensive community recovery. Responding to the need for disaster relief, Project R fulfills multiple needs at maximum practicality and minimal financial investment. By providing a fast economic alternative for re-stitching the fabric of disaster-stricken communities, Project R minimizes the human trauma resulting from disruption of normal life. Project R has received wide coverage in local, regional, and international media, the latest being the RIBA Journal in an article titled “Rubble with a Cause`, which stated: “The beauty is that all the materials are local. Pieces of destroyed buildings are loaded into wire cages to create solid gabions. The process has the bonus of clearing bomb-damaged buildings at the same time as building new ones and all without putting too much strain on the damaged infrastructure of roads`.


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