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“Humanitarian” Houses: Stuart Ohlson’s Plan to Help Haiti’s Homeless

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The “forlorn condition” of Haiti one year after the tiny island nation was devastated by an earthquake is inspiring Denver’s Stuart Ohlson, who has enjoyed a 60-year career in architecture, to offer help. In what might be the swan song of his career, Ohlson has built a prototype of a plastic home he calls the “Humanitarian House” meant to improve the plight of homeless people around the world, writes the Denver Post. His hope is that the modest but sleek 169-square-foot, two-story shelter that sleeps up to eight people in four sets of bunk beds will “take people out of the Third World and catapult them into the 21st century.”

The frame of the house is made from PVC pipe, with the corners cemented three feet into the ground. Waterproof vinyl protects the exterior, which is able to withstand wind gusts of up to 120 mph. Ohlson is now seeking financial backing for mass development of the units, which would cost less than $1,000 each and weigh about 500 pounds. “It could be packaged and carted on the back of a donkey, if necessary,” he says, pointing out that one home can be erected in two days with a shovel, a level, and two men.

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