Designers Andreas Claus Schnetzer and Pils Gregor have created a low-cost shipping pallet home that was completed this year in South Africa. The ‘Slumtube’ utilizes discarded pallets along with other local materials like clay and straw to make an insulated and affordable home that can withstand the extremely hot and cold temperatures of Johannesburg.
Schnetzer and Gregor built upon what they learned from constructing modular pallet houses, improving upon their original design to make it even more affordable. In previous designs, the pallets were used as floors, walls, ceilings and cladding, but they required sturdy wood beams, which were the most expensive part of the home. The new round design eliminates some of these expensive beams, but it’s still designed and built to European standards for structural soundness.
In Johannesburg, temperatures can fluctuate from 45 degrees C in the summer to -2 degrees in the winter, and many homes are not equipped to keep residents comfortable. Most shelters are made out of metal sheets and wooden beams — these serve well to keep the rain out, but provide no insulation, so they are sweltering in the summer and freezing in the winter. Residents usually burn whatever they can find to provide heat — even discarded pallets that they find at nearby factories.
Slumtube transforms these pallets and other recycled materials into a semi-circular long houses that is insulated from heat and cold. The structure also makes use of other waste products like old formwork panels, straw, and clay — materials which are available and affordable for the people living in the townships.
Three Austrian workers and five locals constructed the “Slumtube” in three months and it opened in May, before the World Cup started. Slumtube was built in in a township near Johannesburg and it was first used to accommodate European students who volunteered to educate the community’s children. In the future the structure will be used to house residents of the township, improving their standard of living. The project was sponsored by the Austrian government (BMVIT and FFG) in cooperation with the Technical University of Vienna.