HOUSES FOR CHANGE

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HFC1126

HFC - 1126
University of Melbourne & RMIT (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) / au Australia
2 members
Nathan Su
Bethany Edgoose

Limbox is a housing solution, a political statement, and an urban revitalisation project. Part built solution and part online strategy, Limbox provides affordable housing for asylum seekers whilst also facilitating community building and data collection. Limbox aims to provide asylum seekers in Melbourne with the best possible chance of recovery and integration, and aims to provide the Melbournian community with the best possible chance to get to know asylum seekers face to face.

The housing component of Limbox provides attractive and cheap accommodation that is highly adaptable and customisable. Limbox has a small floor area and can be orientated in any direction, meaning that it can fit into small and irregularly sized sites. The house can also be entirely independent from the services grid as the house is designed to incorporate solar hot water, solar electricity, rainwater collection, and a composting toilet. Limbox can fit into disused plots, backyards, unused alleyways, beside train stations and on the edges of parks. This adaptability means that when no conventional housing is available, asylum seekers can still choose to settle close to family and friends, in welcoming communities and close to appropriate services.

In addition to choosing where they live, asylum seeker using Limbox can also choose the size and layout of their house. Bathroom, laundry, kitchen, and sleeping facilities come attached to individual plates, which can be rearranged within a 36 square metre floor plan. The floor plate area connects to unprogrammed open areas via siding glass doors. These open areas can be closed off with sliding wooden panels. By opening and closing the wooden panels and glass doors, asylum seekers can define interior and exterior spaces and determine the program of the open areas. These areas can be enclosed living spaces, open-air courtyards or throughways. Large asylum seeker families can use these spaces to connect multiple Limbox together, therefore creating a home that meets their needs. With choice over the level of connection between inside and the outside world, asylum seekers can, at different times, configure their home for privacy, or for openness. Studies into the mental health of asylum seekers have found that a sense of privacy and security allows asylum seekers to manage the trauma and instability of their situation, whilst a sense of connection encourages asylum seekers to build social networks within their neighbourhood.

The flexible design of Limbox creates new connections between asylum seekers and the Melbournian community. The visual connection between the interior of Limbox and the outside world aims to normalise the lives of asylum seekers to the Melbournian community, and the open areas, when used as courtyards, creates opportunities for communication and interaction in an environment that still feels safe and controlled. In this way, Limbox is fighting back, both practically and symbolically, against the mystification of asylum seekers and the isolation that is caused by their legal status.

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