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Project by: Ofer Kristal, Federico Gerhardinger, Rumle Due Petersen

Location: Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan

Program: Reconstruction Strategy from Natural Disasters

Size: - m2

Status: Pending Collaboration

What would happen if 3.5 million people suddenly lost their houses? How can one provide shelter all at once to as many people as the population of Berlin?

It could be the start of a science fiction, but truth is that we are facing a real number: 3,5 million are those who lost their houses when a devastating earthquake hit the northern areas of Pakistan in 2005.


Freeconstruction is a strategy for user led evolutionary reconstruction where the simplicity and flexibility of the built system allows the local population to take control over the reconstruction process. It is based on  a modular system which can be applied from the set up of an emergency shelter up to a permanent house. The structure is composed of hinged timber beams, the interpretation of a local building tradition. The lightness of the elements and the simple joints compose a system that can be handled by everyone, from a child to a craftsman.

The project is based on the principle that tools and knowledge are far more valuable than materials: for this reason the structural elements were sized in a way to allow the use of salvaged timber, while the outsourced material is minimized to metal joinery and waterproof canvas.

In a region challenged by inadequate infrastructure and extreme climate conditions, it is a matter of life or death to rescue the affected population in a quick and efficient way. But first-aid is not enough: reconstruction shouldn’t only rescue but also teach, prepare and build a community. A shelter can be more than just a roof over one's head. What if the shelter could evolve into a permanent house, or even a public building?

The project shows how reconstruction can be a smooth transition where the keys to development are the resources of a local community: culture, traditions, materials, people.


The design is aware of factors as improvisation, uncertainty, freedom. Freeconstruction is not a finished house imposed on people and landscape: it is a strategy to be taught, eventually to be refined and evolved.

The project was developed as a master thesis at the University of Aalborg, Denmark.

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