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Innovative disaster relief housing


Local architect Jim Rooney from James Rooney Chartered Architect Ltd in north Belfast and his son Christopher, a final year Business & Law student at UCD, are looking to 2013 as the year that will see the relisation of their creative vision.

This year has seen the father and son duo pooling their architectural and business skills to develop a new easy-to-assemble and sustainable housing solution called the Hexi-House©.  With a recent award of Creative Industries Innovation Funding (CIIF) from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Department of Culture, Arts & Leisure (DCAL), they are now positioned to develop the Hexi-House concept further over the coming months.


A hexagonal shaped disaster relief shelter designed to accommodate a family of five for a period of three to five years, the Hexi-House is made from sustainable materials.  It is a low cost, easy to assemble kit house with a roof that is capable of capturing rain water and a floor that will be raised off the ground to ensure the living area is kept dry at all times. At the end of its life, most of the components can either be recycled or reused to help make further Hexi-Houses.


David McConnell, Programme Development Officer at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, who recognised the funding potential of the Hexi-House said; “At the Arts Council we want to put our support firmly behind local companies and to help them develop and transform their creative ideas into commercial success.  With a decline in many of the traditional industries, the source of our wealth, job creation and economic competitiveness is shifting to our burgeoning creative sector and we need to make these businesses as best equipped as possible to compete at the forefront of the global market.


Investment in creative industries is generating high economic returns and there is potential for much more.  Jim and Christopher clearly have used their skills to develop a potentially life changing housing solution and we wish them all the best of success in taking it to the next stage of development.”


Jim Rooney from James Rooney Chartered Architect Ltd added; “The CIIF funding has provided us with the opportunity to broaden our skills as designers and to explore the redeployment of these in a very different market. Having specialized for years in the design of luxury homes for individual clients we are now looking forward to the challenge of developing Hexi-House as a sustainable, disaster relief shelter that offers a low cost, medium term housing solution to address the needs of disaster victims.


This Arts Council and DCAL funding will enable us to complete the 3D modelling, expand our marketing capabilities and carry out R&D work to help us fine tune our choice of materials and our construction techniques.”
The Creative Industries, which includes innovation in the areas of film, craft, digital media and publishing, currently employ over 31,000 people in Northern Ireland and generate £737million annually.


The Arts Council has funded the development of Northern Ireland’s Creative Industries since 2008 with the next round of Creative Industries Innovation Funding (CIIF) from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Department of Culture, Arts & Leisure (DCAL) opened on Monday 7th January 2013 with a deadline of 7th February 2013.


Guidelines and application form can be accessed at www.artscouncil-ni.org/award/innovation.html.


Image caption: Pictured with a model of the Hexi-House are (l-r) Jim and Christopher Rooney and David McConnell from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.