March 2011 Archives

March 26, 2011

Historical Perspective: The $500 House (1937)


March 24, 2011

Shigeru Ban's Paper Loghouses

With the earthquake in Haiti and Japan causing us to rethink almost everything, here's a wonderful story tweeted over to us by Elaine Evans.

paper loghouses in kobe, 1995
courtesy shigeru ban architects

Is Artificial Photosynthesis the Disruptive Solution to the Energy Problem?

Looks like the Tata Group thinks so. They’ve just partnered with Sun Catalytix to save the planet. In this Fast Company article, we learn that MIT’s Daniel Nocera and his team stuck an artificial cobalt- and phosphate-coated silicon leaf into a jar of water and managed to create power—at an efficiency that surpasses today’s solar panels!

Here’s the official propaganda:

Bring it!

March 18, 2011

Quick Update from India

After 10 days in India we are now approaching the end of our trip.The adventure has been full of contrasts and has provided us with many valuable insights for our project.


We met with several nonprofit organizations, including SOIL, CORD in Delhi and Pratham in Mumbai, as well as with government officials in Raipur. We also met with several educational organizations and interacted with students to solicit their perspectives and gather feedback on the project as Indian future business owners. Finally, we met with for-profit organizations that are already working on housing projects.


However, the most amazing part of our trip was visiting several "slums" in both Mumbai and Raipur. We met incredible people whose hopes and happiness will remain in our minds as we work on the project.


More to come on the trip takeaways but a few pictures to enjoy for now.

The Tuck FYP Team



March 10, 2011

Building a $300 House for the Poor: HBR interviews VG


VG explains the rationale behind the $300 House. Watch >>

The $300 House - Interpreted by Children

We're beginning to get emails and design submissions from schoolchildren.

Here's one example:

submitted by Katrianna S., age 10

Kids, send your submissions to submissions [at] >>

To Shraya in Miss Emily Pasquale's 2nd grade class: we're waiting for the questions! :-)

March 7, 2011

ALBERT,JOHNSON: 2011.03.07_01

Our view on beginning this project so far:

This project ties into a larger body of research that we are working on in a different country but similar set of problems.

We have started on the design of the project and we gave it the title of "transitional comfort". This is a working title however for the lack of a better one at this point.

We are taking  a more global and general look at the problem of housing for the displaced. We are carefully reconsidering the idea of "housing" and the conditions in which it is used.  In addition to the basic criteria, which I will outline below, we are interested in specifically the qualities of the home that such a construction can replace. Once one's home is lost or is missing due to severe economic situations, the place to offer shelter must also become a place that offers a degree of comfort and security. In the same time the challenge is to create a "product" rather than architecture, that satisfies the quality of "comfort" while allowing for a high degree of customization and/or personalization that goes with the making of a "home".


The basic capacity of this construction must include the following:

            Easily assembled and inexpensive

            Light weight

            Earthquake resistant

            Mold and termite resistant

            Wind/Hurricane resistant

            Moisture resistant


Additional capacity of the construction:


            Home-like environment

            Product  that is mass produced

            Easily aggregated to create a larger system


Comments are welcome!

March 4, 2011

Greetings from Tuck School of Business - $300 House India Team

tuck india 300house2.jpg
(L:R - Felipe Valdez, Gaurav Thapan-Raina, Sophie Roux, Antoine Brousse, Nitin Sharma)

GREETINGS from the students of Tuck School of Business @ Dartmouth!

We are a team of 5 passionate people who are working on making $300 house an economic reality in India. We are fortunate to have Dr. Vijay Govindarajan right across our classrooms, and we are excited to be on board.

Here is a quick background about us.

Antoine Brousse (antoine dot brousse at

Antoine Brousse. French citizen, born in 1983. Prior to joining Tuck in 2010, Antoine was an Investment Director of La Cie Financiere dell'Aquila, a family office managing assets in France and in Belgium. Before that he worked for three years, between 2006 and 2009, as an analyst and assistant manager in the M&A department of Rothschild & Cie in Paris where he was involved in various LBO transactions. In 2006, he obtained a Master's degree in Finance and Strategy from the Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris (Sciences-Po). He is particularly interested in joining the $300-house project because he believes in the strong potential of this idea, both from a social and financial point of view. Indeed, finding a solution that will eventually give a decent shelter to hundreds of millions of people around the globe is one of the biggest social and technical challenges of the 21st century but is also a great business opportunity. Moreover, the multidisciplinary aspect of this project makes it even more exciting for Antoine.

Sophie Roux (sophie dot roux at

Sophie is a first year student at Tuck interested in a long term career in Investment Banking. For the FYP (First-Year Project), Sophie will have an interest in determining the financial viability of the project. Prior to Tuck, Sophie worked for four years at New Harbor, an energy investment bank that provides M&A advice to the Power and Utility industry in the US. She worked on several buy-side and sell-side assignments both in the conventional and renewable fuel space. Outside of work, Sophie is very interested in social issues. Last year, Sophie co-founded the Dahlia Foundation, a New York based nonprofit with the goal to support other non-profits with their business needs. Dahlia is in the process of being filed as 501 (c) (3). Sophie was also very involved in the New York community as a Team Leader for New York Cares, a New York City based non-profit organization and with the Financial Women Association.  Sophie is originally from France and holds a BS in International Finance from the International Management Institute in Paris (MBA Institute). She also studied at the A.B. Freeman School of Business in Tulane University.

Nitin Sharma (nitin dot sharma at

Nitin is ecstatic to be a proud member of the $300-house Tuck India team - all of whom bring diverse and fantastic experiences to the table. He hails from Vadodara, Gujarat in India, and has seen the immense poverty that has plagued his country for decades. Dharavi, one of Asia's biggest slums is based out of Mumbai (quite vividly captured in the movie: Slumdog Millionaire). The idea instantly captures the problem at heart of so many people around the world - can they afford one of the basic necessities of life: A house. If so, what is the price to pay for this? Nitin hopes to work on this problem and work with his team to figure out a viable business plan to make this dream a reality. Other than being from the country of origin where this idea is based, Nitin has 6 years of experience working in engineering, consulting, and strategy roles before coming to Tuck. He is an avid squash player and is trying his hands out at skiing at Dartmouth's skiway.

Gaurav Thapan-Raina (gaurav dot thapan-raina at

Gaurav is a first year student at Tuck interested in a long term career in the energy industry. Prior to Tuck, Gaurav worked as an Economic and Environmental Advisor to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and helped developed bilateral and regional relations with the Central Asian states through cooperation in the areas of border security, counter-narcotics, and energy transit issues. Prior to that, he worked in Afghanistan on rural electrification and building electricity infrastructure on the Tajik-Afghan border. He has also worked with the World Bank on the Middle East and North Africa region on integrated natural resources management specifically in Iran and the Gulf countries. Gaurav is an avid open water swimmer and swum 13 miles on the Hudson river to raise funds for victims of the Bam earthquake in Iran in 2003. He was educated at the University of Virginia and completed a Masters in International Politics at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University.

Felipe Valdez (felipe dot a dot valdez at

A native of Washington, DC, Felipe graduated from Stanford University in 2005 with B.A. in History. He spent two years working as an Associate at DAI, an international development consulting firm based in Washington, DC. After DAI, Felipe worked at Goldman Sachs in New York as financial analyst in private wealth management. Most recently, he worked as a financial analyst in the capital markets group at FINCA International, a microfinance organization with 21 subsidiaries in developing countries. While at FINCA, Felipe also spent several months in Ecuador, helping the CFO of FINCA/Ecuador manage a grant from the Gates Foundation to mobilize savings from the poorest clients across the country.  Felipe is currently pursuing a dual degree (MBA / MPA) at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He is most passionate about grassroots economic development and was immediately drawn to the $300 House project because of its innovative approach to improving the lives of the poor in India and, potentially, worldwide.

March 1, 2011

Rapid prototyping