Holcim and Norman Foster Foundation showcase new prototype of Essential Homes for real-world use

  • Essential Homes Applications nears rollout with new prototype unveiled at Royal Academy Summer Exhibition
  • Scalable application planned to launch in Latin America in 2025, offering affordable sustainable living 


Holcim and the Norman Foster Foundation present a scalable Essential Homes Applications prototype for real-world use at this year’s Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, furthering their vision to make sustainable building possible for all. With Holcim’s sustainable building solutions inside, the Essential Homes project is designed by the Norman Foster Foundation to provide safety, comfort and wellbeing for low-income or displaced communities. The new prototype has been developed for rollout in Latin America in 2025, following an in-depth study of local housing conditions and the environment. 

Nollaig Forrest, Chief Sustainability Officer, Holcim: “We are excited to be continuing our collaboration with the Norman Foster Foundation on this important project to make sustainable building possible for all. The Essential Homes prototype we are jointly unveiling at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition is designed to be rolled out at scale in Latin America during 2025.” 

Norman Foster, President, Norman Foster Foundation: “This project grew out of a workshop organised by the Norman Foster Foundation for young graduates devoted to the issues of refugee housing. Realising that a family can spend up to nearly two decades living in a tent, the scholars posed a challenge – could a more durable, permanent and dignified home be built in a few days, that would be economically viable and sustainable? The Foundations project team, with the support of Holcim, met this challenge with a prototype home unveiled at the 2023 Venice Biennale. This has now evolved into a row house version, offering higher standards for ultra low-cost housing - shown for the first time at this Royal Academy Summer Show.” 

The Essential Homes in Latin America will be built with low-carbon, local materials, including ECOPact low-carbon concrete and ECOPlanet low carbon cement. A custom high-performance concrete will be used in the prefabricated roofs. In line with Holcim’s commitment to circular construction, Essential Homes Applications are fully recyclable. 

At the exhibition, Holcim and the Norman Foster Foundation will showcase sketches of the Essential Homes concept by Norman Foster, as well as physical models of the initial model and the updated prototype. The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition is the world’s oldest open submission exhibition, held every year since 1769. It will take place in London from 18 June to 18 August 2024.

About Holcim

Holcim is a global leader in innovative and sustainable building solutions with net sales of CHF 27.0 billion in 2023. Driven by our purpose to build progress for people and the planet, our 63,448 employees are on a mission to decarbonize building, while improving living standards for all. We empower our customers across all regions to build better with less, with a broad range of low-carbon and circular solutions, from ECOPact and ECOPlanet to our circular technology platform ECOCycle®. Through innovative systems, from Elevate roofing to PRB insulation, Holcim makes buildings more sustainable in use, driving energy efficiency and green retrofitting. With sustainability at the core of our strategy, we are on the way to becoming a net-zero company with 1.5°C targets validated by SBTi. 

Learn more about Holcim on www.holcim.com, and by following us on LinkedIn.

Sign up for Holcim's Building Progress newsletter here and follow our journey to a net-zero future.

About Norman Foster Foundation

The Norman Foster Foundation promotes interdisciplinary thinking and research to help new generations anticipate the future. The first mission of the Norman Foster Foundation is to make visible the centrality of architecture, infrastructure, and urbanism for the betterment of society. To this end, the second mission is to encourage new thinking and research across traditional boundaries in order to help younger generations anticipate the challenges of future change. In particular, the foundation speaks to those professionals who are concerned with the environment: architects, engineers, designers, urbanists, civic leaders, planners, and artists. This is at the heart of the Foundation’s holistic approach to design and is ever more relevant as populations shift to cities. With the implications of climate change, robotics and Artificial Intelligence, sustainable design is not about fashion but about survival.

The Foundation holds the Norman Foster Archive and Library, which provides a window into the larger narrative and history of our built environment through the work of Norman Foster. This is complemented and supported by drawings and models from other significant architects such as Claude-Nicolas Ledoux, Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, Charles and Ray Eames, Buckminster Fuller, Richard Rogers, Zaha Hadid and Tadao Ando. Through its research initiatives and programmes, the Norman Foster Foundation encourages the transfer of advanced knowledge in a wide range of design fields. The Foundation’s educational initiatives are structured around research, workshops, fellowships and forums, built around the Foundation’s core objectives.

The Norman Foster Foundation acts from the United Kingdom, New York and Spain, with its headquarters in Madrid.


Important disclaimer – forward-looking statements:

This document contains forward-looking statements. Such forward-looking statements do not constitute forecasts regarding results or any other performance indicator, but rather trends or targets, as the case may be, including with respect to plans, initiatives, events, products, solutions and services, their development and potential. Although Holcim believes that the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are based on reasonable assumptions as at the time of publishing this document, investors are cautioned that these statements are not guarantees of future performance. Actual results may differ materially from the forward-looking statements as a result of a number of risks and uncertainties, many of which are difficult to predict and generally beyond the control of Holcim, including but not limited to the risks described in the Holcim's annual report available on its website (www.holcim.com) and uncertainties related to the market conditions and the implementation of our plans. Accordingly, we caution you against relying on forward-looking statements. Holcim does not undertake to provide updates of these forward-looking statements.

Contact Media Relations

Phone: ​+41 (0) 58 858 87 10

Email: media@holcim.com