Essential Homes Research Project

The Essential Homes Research Project by Holcim and the Norman Foster Foundation was inaugurated in Venice at the occasion of 2023 Biennale of Architecture launch. In this partnership the Norman Foster Foundation designed the housing concept to meet essential human needs, providing safety, comfort and wellbeing for people in displacement, who can live in temporary settlements for decades.

Holcim brought the project to life with a range of its sustainable building solutions, making it low-carbon, energy-efficient and circular, demonstrating how sustainable building can be possible for all.

Norman Foster, President, Norman Foster Foundation, tells:

“How can we ensure everyone, including some of our world’s most vulnerable populations, can have access to decent living conditions? During the Venice Biennale we show our work-in-progress on this idea; the outcome of a few months of intensive activity in collaboration with Holcim.”

The Essential Homes Research Project provides safety, comfort and wellbeing. Highly sustainable, this home has a 70% lower CO2 footprint compared to traditional structures.
It includes a range of Holcim sustainable building solutions making it low-carbon, energy-efficient and circular.

Ph. Chiara Becattini

It is made of:

  • Low-carbon rollable concrete sheets serving as an external shell, providing physical safety.
  • Permeable pathways made of ECOPact low-carbon concrete connecting the homes, including light-absorbing aggregates reflecting natural light at night, reducing energy use and light pollution.
  • Energy-efficient insulation systems from Elevate boards to low-carbon Airium foam to ensure thermal and acoustic comfort.
  • Driving circular construction, Holcim’s ECOCycle®, recycled construction demolition materials are used to make the base of the Essential Home more weather resilient.
  • Circular by design with modular units, at the end of use, each component of the Essential Homes model can be reused or recycled.


Ph. Mika Cartier / Empty

Location: Time Space Existence Exhibition, 20 May 2023 to 26 November 2023, Venice, Italy Physical prototype on view at Marinaressa Gardens, Exhibition in Palazzo Mora.