Nano House: earthquake-resistant housing

Nano House


The project took inspiration from the ‘Nano Car’ developed by Tata Motors as a ‘low cost high technology car’, intended to put car ownership within reach of a new market and transform the lives of millions in the process. Similarly the Nano House project seeks to exploit the latest technology to develop an affordable housing model which puts an improved standard of living within reach of low income families.


The Nano House offers a blueprint for low income earthquake proof steel housing, intended for use in developing regions throughout the world. The system will provide complete flexibility to allow the house to be adapted according to local site constraints, culture, living habits, space standards, climate and materials. The system combines the benefits of pre-fabrication with the ability to customise and personalise so that every home can have its own unique character.


The essential base ingredient of the Nano House is a self supporting steel frame. This frame will allow the true value of steel to be exploited in terms of predictable structural performance ensuring long life and resistance to flood, wind, snow, earthquake and vermin. It will also maximise the benefits of pre-fabrication. This frame has been developed and refined to provide a flexible structural system that can be adapted to individual project requirements.


The building system is quick and simple to erect which minimises the need for skilled labour. The components of the system allow safe and easy construction, whilst avoiding the need for specialist tools and equipment. Simple connection details allow easy assembly and future demountability.


Using vernacular materials is a strategy which helps make the Nano House affordable:

  • Sustainable
  • Locally sourced-readily available materials e.g. adobe, local timbers
  • Reduced transportation costs
  • Suited to local environment & climate
  • Personalised-owners can make their dwelling individual
  • Frame can be re-clad whilst maintaining permanent steel structure
  • Cladding can be easily washed away / removed in event of natural disasters, then replaced at a later date.


In developing countries, material costs are high and labour costs are low. In order to make this project affordable the minimum amount of steel must be used while still reacting to site constraints.

  • Minimising structure saves on transportation costs
  • Lightweight structure – suitable for manual construction.
  • Providing a single storey structure means that depth and gauge of the steel can be reduced
  • The structure will alter according to climatic and site constraints
  • The structure is independent from the cladding system and will be designed to be permanent and withstand earthquakes / cyclones / other local natural hazards.
  • Foundations will alter according to site constraints and transportation / local resources
Nano House
Nano House