carlo ratti associati has developed livingboard, a flexible prefab housing system to improve housing conditions in rural parts of india, made of low-cost materials that can be flat-packed and easily transported.
working together with indian non-profit organization werise, the international design and innovation practice has created the prototype of a portable motherboard system that encourages an open-source approach to design, allowing people to build their own dwellings on top of a prefabricated core.
carlo ratti and werise have launched the first pilot of livingboard in the indian state of karnataka, near bangalore, which is currently under study for development. the system provides access to basic services – from electricity to water treatment – with a core that constitutes the floor of a 12 sqm room (3x4m). it can offer, depending on the geography and infrastructure of the region in question, water storage and distribution, water treatment through filtration, waste management, heating, batteries to accumulate PV-generated electricity and wi-fi connectivity. also, from a structural point of view, it provides seismic isolation by separating the building’s superstructure from the substructure.
the project involves residents in its creation instead of being a ready-made solution, constantly evolving while allowing users to choose the features that work most effectively for them. livingboard also pays homage to 20th-century US inventor richard buckminster fuller and his dream of ‘air-deliverable buildings,’ as it can potentially be carried by helicopters or even drones so as to reach any remote location.
‘the maker movement has shown how empowering it is to put the new fabrication tools in the hands of people,’ says professor carlo ratti, founder of CRA practice and director of the senseable city lab at the massachusetts institute of technology (MIT). ‘an important challenge for the next years will be to apply the same principle to construction – transferring the DIY attitude of fab labs to housing. this is the vision behind our design for livingboard.’