Egg House – Dai Haifei

Life in the big city as a young architect after school isn’t easy, and it gets even harder after having to pay that huge rent bill each month.  Trust us we know, but Dai Haifei a recent graduate working as an intern in Beijing China came up with an amazing idea in his final year to avoid that rent bill.  It may be modest living, but it is a pretty intense design and life style.

SCHOOL: Hunan university
STUDENTS: Dai Haifei’s
YEAR: 2010


” The “Egg house” is about two meters high, three meters long and two meters wide (Height: 6.5 feet; Length: 10 feet; Width: 6.5 feet). The hut was woven with bamboo and pegged with nails. Outside bamboo, there are mats, insulation film and waterproof film. The outermost is the insulation layer made up of sacks stuffed with sawdust and grass seed, “In the spring, grass can grow from within.”

The egg-shaped cabin is not well-furnished. One bed about one meter wide (twin-size), a few books on the bed side. A water tank is hidden at the end of the bed. The pressure system can pump up water for washing. ”One tank can be used for about three days. After the water runs out, I fill the tank with water from my company,” Dai Haifei said. As the “shell” is just about a hand’s span thick, the inside is not much warmer than the outside. On top of the hut is a solar panel. The storage cell of the panel provides electric power at night. When the door is closed, the thermometer reads 4 ℃ (40 F).

Dai Haifei’s hometown is in a village in Hunan Province. His father is a construction worker; his mother worked as a cleaner at a company. Dai Haifei went to Hunan university, and found an internship opportunity at a Beijing-based architectural design company on the Internet. He stayed there after graduation. He said  his parents are getting old, but are still on the run, hoping to save money for his marriage. “They do not know that based on their wages, buying an apartment in Beijing needs their working for two or three hundred years.”
“Even renting an apartment in Beijing is so costly that I can not accept,” Dai said. Early this year, a design project on display at his company’s “Biennial exhibition” featured mobile egg-shaped cabin. “I want to build my house on my own. This design suits my expectation well.” Daihai Fei said he decided to use the company’s design concept and build a house for himself.
Subsequently, Dai Haifei borrowed more than 6,400 yuan from his cousin as the expenditure of materials. With the help of several alumni, after a couple of busy months, he finished the egg-shaped cabin. He spent another 3,000 yuan transporting the house from his hometown to the compound in which his company is located. During the day, he works and studies at the company. At night, he goes downstairs into the cabin to for sleep and gets up at 8 a.m. After the winter comes, it is increasingly cold inside the cabin, the temperature being only about 3,4 ℃ at night. ”I have a rechargeable battery.  I charge it once each month at the company. I use an electric blanket on cold nights.”

“Even without paying rent, I still don’t have much money left at the end of the monthly payroll cycle. But now my living standard has been clearly elevated,” said Dai Haifei. He has been living in the cabin for almost two months. Not burdened with rent, he manages to go to cafe and enjoy life of a petty bourgeois every now and then.

Asked about why he is willing to suffer the notoriously cold winter weather, Dai said, “I don’t think that much. In fact, I don’t feel I am suffering. Winter in Hunan is more intolerable than in Beijing. There it is cold and damp. So I am doing okay. I only sleep here. My comforter is very thick. I even woke up from heat last night. My parents know about my life. I gave them a call about where I live. They also feel happy I can save money on rent.

‘My parents think I should own a house, find a girlfriend and marry her. But they don’t know it is so hard to achieve in Beijing. I rented an apartment before. It was a big apartment separated into multiple small rooms. A 12-square-meter room (130 square feet) charges 800 to 900 yuan (US$130 – 145). Earlier this year, I had to go back to Hunan to finish my final project before graduation, so I wished to terminate the lease. The real estate agent found many excuses to withhold the deposit. So I am free. I don’t want to worry about these things too much.’ “

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2 thoughts on “Egg House – Dai Haifei

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