Prasoon Kumar is an architect and urban designer as well as the chief executive officer of billionBricks, a nonprofit design and innovation studio. He has spent a decade working in India, the United States, Hong Kong, and Singapore on architecture, master planning, and regional planning projects. In 2013, Kumar left the corporate world to start billionBricks in order to commit himself completely to the cause of ending homelessness. Kumar was on the team that won the first ULI Hines Student Design Competition.
Recently, billionBricks produced a prototype called WinterHYDE, a life-saving fully insulated, lightweight shelter for displaced and homeless people that provides maximal privacy and can protect a family of five from extreme weather. It is designed for a single person to complete a tool-less installation within 15 minutes and without any need for anchoring.
“We only look at solutions that have high replicability,” says Kumar. “We do systemic solutions that could be applied across hundreds or thousands of houses. We do a few prototypes and then we open-source what we do and let the community duplicate it on their own.People ask us how much our houses cost and we often don’t know. In some cases, the buildings cost much more than the housing available, but we view them as tools for economic development.” The studio has already worked on projects in India, Cambodia, Malaysia, Nepal, and Indonesia.