Stab Magazine | Nev Hyman Wins Good Design Award For Cyclone-Proof Modular Homes
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Nev Hyman Wins Good Design Award For Cyclone-Proof Modular Homes

From Firewire to cyclone-resistant architecture.

Words by Elliot Struck

For Nev Hyman, Firewire surfboards is no longer a professional focus. While he still designs by request for the company he created, he’d rather let (new owner) Kelly Slater, Tomo, Jon Pyzel and the rest of the gang handle things while he focuses on building strong, resilient homes for weather-devastated countries. And, fair enough.

Remember what Cyclone Pam did to Vanuatu last year? Ever since the country was ravaged by Pam’s fury, Nev and his team have been deep in rebuilding homes, schools and medical clinics there. Most particularly, on Tanna Island. The initiative is better known as Nevhouse.

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“This is a house that’ll last 100 years that’s impervious to bacteria, free of maintenance, and to a degree withstand hurricanes and earthquakes,” he told Mashable. “So from this perspective, they are important tools for disaster relief and it can be built and taken down again in just two days. What’s more, it’s culturally relevant to its host nation and community.”

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On Friday, Nevhouse won the prestigious Good Design Award for Sustainability. The modular, pre-fabricated structures Nev developed with Ken McBryde were inspired by Nev’s increasing concerns over waste in the ocean (and most particularly, plastic). After investing in a plastics recycling company in 2004, his new interest eventually evolved into Nevhouse: Originally planned to use entirely recycled materials, 60 percent turned out to be more realistic (along with sustainable timber) for the strong, cheap structures, which can be erected in five days or less. Perfect for the needs of less-fortunate countries scrambling in the wake of weather destruction.

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Nev built his first major structure, a school in Vanuatu’s Port Vila, last year following Cyclone Pam. Then, in April this year, Nevhouse began work on 15 structures on Tanna Island (which’ll be finished any day now). As Mashable says: “Building in Vanuatu means the structures have to be able to withstand a Category 5 cyclone and provide a safe house for locals, not only a pleasant place to live. According to Hyman, the building’s sturdy frame and the mechanisms by which it’s tied down means it won’t be pulled out of the ground by high wind. It’s also appropriate for tropical temperatures. Thanks to the structure’s many louvres, there is considerable air movement through the building.”

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Now, Nevhouse isn’t a charity (the cost for a school room is around $50k, which gets cheaper the more they use local labour), but according to Nev the company can deliver for a cheaper price than other cyclone-resistant housing.

“Nevhouse is currently in talks with governments, aid agencies and charities to find potential clients,” says Mashable. No doubt the Good Design Award for Sustainability will help their cause.

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