A playful solution to the housing crisis | Sarah Murray

Translator: Ivana Korom
Reviewer: Camille Martínez Hi. My name’s Sarah, and I’ve been priced out
of the housing market. In fact, I’m one of the majority of my generation who can’t afford a home. And in 2017, home ownership
amongst young Australians has fallen to the lowest level
in recorded history. So, foolishly or otherwise, I decided to build my own home. But the prognosis
wasn’t good there, either. Architects cater for the one percent, builders are scarce, so service is inconsistent
and prices are high. The single biggest investment in my life, and I was amazed
how little self-determination, choice and, ultimately, control I had. What’s more, I was doubly surprised
at how vulnerable this made me feel. Frankly, I felt trapped. So, I reflected on this
for quite some time. And I realized what I wanted was democratized
design and construction. And that led to me asking
one very simple question: What is building a house? What is it? Well, it turns out that building a house is making a series of decisions,
some with physical consequences, within a defined set of parameters. Now, having worked in software
applications for some time now, this all sounded very familiar to me. I also couldn’t understand
why we build on-site. No other major assembly in our lives
is constructed like this. Your car doesn’t come to you in pieces with an extra 10 percent just in case, to be assembled at the mercy
of the elements. So why should your house? So I built a computer game. A game that allows you to design your home and have it delivered to you. A game that puts the home builder back at the center of the largest
purchase in their life, elevating them from spectator to player. A game with full visibility of the costs
and environmental impact of each new attribute you add. Using modular components,
players select items from their library and drag them into their world. Each item, be it a wall, a solar battery
or even an armchair, contains all of the information
for the system to calculate costs, environmental impact and even a happiness tally for the player. Eighty-three percent of home builders
said that next to cost, environmentally friendly features
were the most important things to them. So out of the gate, homes
are integrated with solar systems. Born green. Sustainable housing is often associated
with wealth and affluence, but that shouldn’t be the case. In fact, truly sustainable housing
should be available to everyone and affordable for all. So, I had found a way to get
the control back that I was craving and give it to others. But something was still bugging me, something was still
keeping me up at night. What about those people who have genuinely no control
over where they live? Every hour — in the space
of your intermission — 4,000 new homes are needed in the world. Wrap your head around that number. That’s an astonishing 35 million homes
globally, every year. And in Australia alone, we have a shortfall of 250,000 dwellings. And in addition to that, we have 190,000 families
on the assisted-housing wait list; families in need of a home. Between now and 2050, when the global population
is set to move from today’s 7.6 billion to tomorrow’s 9.8 billion people, hundreds of millions of people will experience security, health
and safety issues. Imagine if you can
not feeling secure in your home — not from crime, not from theft, but from the fact
that the building you’re in — the building you’re in — might not be structurally sound or built from nontoxic components or meet local natural disaster standards. It’s the 21st century. And this just isn’t good enough. What if — what if — we could restore control and dignity
to those individuals by giving them a home,
but not just any home: their home, and a home of their design. We’re currently adapting our game
so that when a player builds a home, they’re contributing to a home
for someone in need. And I know this sounds like a lofty goal, and it is ridiculously ambitious, but today, our current operating model operates at a ten-to-one ratio. So for every 10 homes we build, we can build a home for someone in need. (Applause) This is made possible because today, with design for manufacture and assembly, which uses light gauge
steel frame construction, shipped and assembled on-site, we can decrease construction
costs by 20 percent and environmental waste by 15 percent, saving time, money and keeping tons of waste
out of landfills. The power in modular construction is that you can build year-round
with confidence in your costs, in your quality, and in your delivery date,
in your build date. Now, wouldn’t that be crazy?
Wouldn’t that be great? But — that doesn’t get me to my goal. My goal is one-for-one. So I’ve been traveling the world, looking at different alternatives
of construction 3-D printing, trying to find technology
that will help me deliver on my ambition. 3-D printing is so exciting
and so promising, offering a 40 percent reduction in cost
and near zero waste. And this is just to name a few, but some of the really exciting
innovations happening all over the world are happening in Italy, France,
Dubai and Australia. And they use robotic arms
to print everything from solid stone to concrete, to wax. In Italy, they have developed
a technique using sorel cement. Sorel cement was originally
invented in 1867, and it’s the beautiful chemical marriage
of magnesium oxide and local sand, which they can now use
to print solid stone walls. And in France, they have a regulator-approved
although still experimental process where they print two parallel
tracks of foam insulation and pour concrete in the middle
to create solid stone. And in Dubai, sitting at the foot
of those two glorious Emirates Towers, is a vision of the future
in the middle of the desert. They’ve got their experimental
office of the future, which is constructed
using 3-D printed concrete which was printed in China and shipped and assembled
on location in Dubai. And not to be outdone, in Australia, we’ve pioneered
an amazing technology that allows you to print wax molds and pour concrete over the top of them, allowing you to create really intricately
beautiful and cost-effective facades that you can see in person the next time you travel
the London Underground. But all of these things are tools — hammer of tomorrow, if you like. And the one common thread
that connects all these things is computer-aided design. We will need models
to build using these techniques, models like the ones being developed
by players in our game. I want to put every person that wants one in a home of their own design. And there are many
more applications still. We could usher in an entirely new
empowered experience of special needs
or aged-care accommodation. And we could provide rapid,
on-site assistance in emergency housing situations. In the words of one of my players, “I want to take matters into my own hands and live by example.” Thank you. (Applause)

Bernard Jenkins


  1. Nice advertisement, but I was expecting… you know, something more. This is just a commercial.

  2. Solution has always been this simple: Ban mortgages. Home prices will continue to inflate so as long as there are stooges willing to borrow money at interest. No debtors means homes prices crash down to their true affordable values.

  3. Why are 90% of these TED talks-just first world collectivits with more time on thier hand then calluses?

  4. a culture of rent to own must encouraged and adopted in the world to help with the global housing crisis

  5. Nice ideas, all how to pour concrete more effectively. Does anyone have any idea what a waste of energy and raw material to burn cement? On big commercial buildings that is already a rarely, mostly used only for decoration purposes. If that does not worth to use at scale, why do we use it to build entire houses with?

  6. I think its a bit harder than that since real-state is one of the pillars of the banking system and vice-versa.

  7. Just think about the fact that someone who works in software application development, an extremely well paid profession, is priced out of the housing market.

    Then reevaluate why young people are fucking angry about what the older generations did to the world economy.

  8. Did she not say contractors were hard to find. So who's going to set up here pod on the lots she doesn't seem to have

  9. Does anybody know what this game is? And what its called or a link.

  10. Sarah u gota wake up, worldwide land prices are on fire..in 3rd world countries in East Africa a small plot in the CBD can easily go for 1.5mUSD.

    a dude in Africa.

  11. We need free condoms for everyone. Condoms shouldn't be limited to the rich. Poor people need them even more.

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