Combating Crisis with Design

CRISIS > a condition of instability or danger, as in social, economic, environmental, political, or international affairs, leading to a decisive change

Monday, January 01, 2007

In action>> Organge Farm Township Project

The Orange Farm Township Project is a series of architectural design+build projects that primarily based out of the Vienna University of Technology in Austria. The projects are socially mindful public public buildings for the Orange Farm community near Johannesburg, South Africa, and the structures have been built to near completion by the students and their instructors.

Orange Farm PDF [project description] [english]

Friday, December 15, 2006

In action>> Practical Action

Begun in 1966 as the Intermediate Technology Development Group, the group now known as Practical Action is using both design and technology to help relieve impoverished communities around the world, aiming to create conditions for an acceptable means of daily living and working. Keeping with ideals of sustainability and “small is beautiful,” the projects this group addresses involves shelter, energy, transportation, food and agriculture, as well as disaster mitigation. The group works all around the world currently, but has concentrated efforts in eastern and southern Africa, south central Asia, and parts of Latin America.

In lines of architecture and building, Practical Action has made a big focus on improving the local building standards of indigenous methods and materials, particularly with earth construction standards. Brick making, rammed-earth construction, and compressed earth block have all been introduced into different programs primarily based in Africa. Earthquake resistant developments for southern Peru have been another successful program.

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.” >>Dr. E. F. Schumacher, Founder of Practical Action


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In action>> International Design Clinic

International Design Clinic is a non-profit organization that has been started with the intention of giving design students an opportunity to contribute to community needs with design solutions for the betterment of those communities, terming it as “Guerilla Architecture and Humanitarian Design”. The group is spurred on by the ideas that the world has many desperate needs currently and that those needs require creative solutions by creative individuals. The students are lead by IDC’s founder and president, Gerald Shall, who is currently a faculty member of Architecture at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

The group, though very new, has already completed design+build projects for children’s playgrounds in Romania and Louisiana. The next upcoming project will entail students engaging in an exercise to design a portable ‘school house’ for Mumbai, India.


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In action>> La Voute Nubienne

Begun in 2000, the Association la Voute Nubienne has revived a previously misplaced building form and technique to address escalating problems with building in many impoverished areas of west Africa. The technology of the Nubian vault is taken from Sudan and Central Asia and is meant to be a better solution for shelter on multiple fronts. It is entirely earthen construction, not relying on either timber, sawn lumber, or corrugated metal roofing, which has become either hard to obtain or economically unfeasible for many poor families. The Nubian vault technique requires no temporary supports and the technique is easily taught to local craftsmen. It is easily considered economically and environmentally sustainable, and it also creates better shelters by value of thermal capacity and aesthetics.

The Association does most of their work in Burkino Faso, having trained some 40+ teams. The most popular typology erected in this technique through this program has been the private home, but it is noted that a Catholic church and mosque have also been built just recently with the Nubian vault methodology.

Hassan Fathy also used this method at his village project of New Gourna in Egypt during the 1940's.

Sources: [english] >> Nubian_vault

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In action>> Public Architecture

Public Architecture was established in 2002 as a non-profit architectural outfit boasting of its pro-bono services for public service projects and advocacy among the professional community. Founded by John Peterson, he was inspired with a vision beyond the typical clientele and commissions that he was so accustomed for architects to take on. He saw a bigger vision to impact the culture and community on a larger, ‘public’ scale. Today, Public Architecture has launched an advocacy campaign aimed at the entire design professional community to encourage a pledge and dedication of their billable hours towards community design and development. The program is known as “The 1% Solution”.

In the field, Public Architecture has tackled issues such as urban sidewalk+streetscape design, accessory dwelling units, day laborer stations, and the Scrap House, a built exhibition for the World Environment Day festivities in San Francisco using all reclaimed materials from local landfills.


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In action>> Design Corps

Design Corps “shares a vision with many to help solve daily needs and crises of people through design.” Through the efforts and energy of design students and architectural interns, Byran Bell has created an organization that is aiming its efforts at rural and low-income communities in the United States, those typically cut-off from the services and benefits of a professional designer. [Design Corps is considered a cooperative program in association with AmeriCorps.]

Projects that have been generated by the group include self-help homes, community centers, migrant housing, and job-training centers through their fellowships, internships, and other part-time studios. Other efforts have brought forth the published book Good Deeds, Good Design: Community Service through Architecture from 2004. They have also begin an annual conference addressing their concerns, the Structures for Inclusion Conference, hosted this coming spring in Charlotte, North Carolina.


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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Competition>> Rebuilding New Orleans after Katrina

In light of the affects of Katrina and seeing the need to form a strategy for replacing the estimated 300,000 homes that were lost in the storm, Tulane University’s School of Architecture and Architectural Record sponsored a two-tiered competition for professionals and students. More than 500 entries were submitted.

The competitions addressed the need for New Orleans to consider a variety of long-term housing solutions in an effort to inhabit once again the ravaged urban fabric. The first competition was aimed at generating ideas for a high density development in the immediate downtown area situated on a city block. The contest asked for a 160-unit development that also included retail and other public space. One of the jurors is considered the leading developer looking to rebuild on the actual competition site. The second contest, only open to students, was an exploratory exercise intended to develop a new housing prototype for New Orleans taking into consideration lessons learned from Katrina as well as the leftover conditions of the city’s fabric. Five of the entries were given noted citations.


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CS13__Cusato's Katrina Cottage

An immediate response to the FEMA trailer park, the resulting efforts of housing for displaced peoples from the devastation left behind by Hurricane Katrina, equipped and motivated designers as well as other concerned individuals to seek other design alternatives and solutions. What has become known as the Katrina Cottage, designed by Marianne Cusato and Eric Moser, is one of the resulting products that emerged from a design charette organized by the Congress for the New Urbanism called the Mississippi Renewal Forum.

The result is a neo-trad vernacular cottage that is intended to be a ‘restarter’ home for those displaced by Katrina. The idea is that these units could be customized and placed on a larger lot with the expectation that it would either be added onto and made into a larger family home or instead be reprogrammed into a guest cottage or accessory dwelling. Because of their small size, they are expected to be built quickly. The units have been categorized and marketed as an affordable housing solution, though being priced at more than $100/SF may raise reasonable questioning and is most likely attributed to a hyped “cute” factor. Four models have been prototyped and can be prefab or constructed on-site. Lowe’s will offer the ‘materials package’ beginning in Spring 2007.


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Competition>> Shelter in a Cart

DesignBoom hosted the Shelter in a Cart design competition as its social awareness award for 2006. Those entering the competition were asked to submit designs that addressed the needs of homelessness throughout the world urban centers, on the street in a transportable unit and not in a confined shelter or center for homeless individuals. The results produced more than 4,000 entries from almost 100 different countries. The project was hosted in consideration of the nearly 4 million homeless individuals when combining US and European figures.

The winning submission for the competition was a three-man team from Greece [Dramitinos + Alkis + Papageorgiou]. Keeping cost and production in mind while at the same time considering the safekeeping of personal belonging from the elements, the designers incorporated a typical mass-manufactured shopping cart with a ‘closet’ compartment that contained secure and waterproof storage spaces. Within the housing of the same compartment, a fabric cot can fold out and cover a sleeping ‘tent’ of some sorts. Serious considerations were also made concerning the mobility of the cart as well as the durability.


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CS12__MVRDV's Pig City

Pig City is the resulting work of MVRDV as part of cooperative study with Netherlands’ Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Fisheries. The notion of rethinking the pork industry was brought into light with consideration of the land-consuming populations of both Dutch citizens as well as swine and the increasing demand on the industry’s export market. This proposal was meant to address several concerns: Space and land conservation, disease management, curving transportation resource expenditures, as well as better energy efficiency in pork industry operations.

The resulting scheme featured 76 high-rise towers with flats at each level for pig farming. The towers were proposed to be located near both ports and urban concentrations in address of transportation. On top of the 600+ meter tower is a fishery that accounts for a portion of the food consumption needs for the swine. Energy capture + processing systems also incorporate into the scheme with the intention of using byproducts of the farming operations and occupancy to sustain the facility with energy.

This swinish fantasia has caught the attention of many. Some architects applaud its imagination and dramatic measures. But most architects and others have raised critical concern about its danger of centralization. Some have questioned the ethical responsibilities and credibility of architects who propose extreme solutions as these.


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In action>> One Small Project

One Small Project is an updated website and upcoming book calling for the submissions from creative thinkers, activists, designer, and the like with projects that address the issue of ‘left-over’ spaces that more than one billion individuals occupy and call home. Staggering facts of overwhelming numbers shedding light on the reality of squatter and slum communities is addressed not by recognizing large scale efforts or projects, but instead celebrates “One person. One architect. One small project. Repeat.” It recognizes the scale of problem as well as the gravity of addressing all of it by giving attention to individuals who are making a difference one space at a time.

Wes Janz is the author and instigator of this movement. He is currently a faculty member of Architecture at Ball State University and is also a registered architect. In his current academic platform, his strives to instill into his students the value of being a “global citizen-architect”.


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In action>> Adobe Alliance

Adobe Alliance is a non-profit group based in western Texas reaching out to the world in advocating the building of sustainable structures with adobe technology and methods. Promoting economic and environmental sustainability while at the same time incorporating considerations for indigenous aesthetics and the natural landscape is a driving purpose in the organization’s efforts. Internships and other workshops are offered with the intentions of training and educating interested individuals in the benefits of adobe construction. It is the hope of Adobe Alliance to use this program as means of addressing housing needs and environmental concerns in all arid regions of the world where adobe is a possibility.

Adobe Alliance was founded in the 1990’s by Simone Swan who worked with Hassan Fathy in the 1970’s, renown for his pursuits of earth construction and advocating traditional, local buildings strategies.

>>Questions and Responses with Simone Swan, Adobe Alliance founder

CCD>> Generally speaking, where are design professionals failing and succeeding in combating crisis with design?
Swan>> In the news you see the white, plastic boxes provided to the residents of Bam, Iran, the tents in the peaks of Pakistan and elsewhere, and plywood shelters in Sri Lanka. I simply have not seen or heard of combating crisis by organizing by organizing people to build their own vernacular with comtemporary improvements.

CCD>> What do you see as an overlooked crisis currently in the world that could benefit from the attention + talents of creative designers?
Swan>> An overlooked crisis is where people are ill-housed and not provided with sufficient materials, be they banana leaves, thatch, adobe bricks, mud and branches, condemned buildings in big cities rife for repairs. The attention and talents of creative designers could consist of 1] A dialogue questioning the future dwellers on their individual needs and preferences, 2] Back-breaking work and skills to obtain and provide appropriate materials, and 3] The will of creative designers to work alongside the people in crisis preferably learning their language. I do not see the housing crises solved at a work table.

CCD>> Does function or beauty play a more important role of combating crisis with design?
Swan>> In the case of adobe roofed with woodless vaults and domes, beauty is the bonus that results from the functional form. I know little else. If one launches into the ambition of departing to create beauty, in any circumstance, there lurks the extreme danger or crisis of the designer's pretentiousness and hubris.

CCD>> Have you all set up any educational programs to export your knowledge to other arid regions of the world that could benefit from your empirical research?
Swan>> We publish but mainly hold two workshops a year offering hands-on building of walls, vaults, and domes and theory. That is done through the variety of students: from Iran, Nepal, Brazil, Colombia, France; Oakland, Toronto, Tucson, San Luis Potosi, Chihuahua City, Dallas, New York. What they eventually do with their learnings is not always known. Our Nepalese alumnus built adobe domed "yurts" in Mongolia.

CCD>> What is the next big step for Adobe Alliance? Are there any new developing directions or ambitions?
Swan>> We are slowly becoming known after 12 years and will no doubt become itinerant adobe-building teachers rather than rooted in the remote Big Bend Area.


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CS11__Fisk + Vittori's GroHome

Husband and wife team Pliny Fisk III and Gail Vittori continue to promote sustainable design through their organization called Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems, a non-profit program that had its origins rooted in an “ecological design” course taught in the field at University of Texas at Austin more than 30 years ago. Today the organization “emphasiz[es] design, master planning, policy and education, and tools” as a means of promoting healthy and sustainable community design and building.

A project that has recently been advocated by the group is known as the GroHome. This project is a ‘green’ and modular design that allows for owners/inhabitants to expand and adapt the structure and its program with a minimal effect on multiple factors. Along with the modular matrix, a “fat wall” can be added on to the structure and contains perhaps an entire kitchen wall or functioning bathroom. In recent light of respondes to Katrina and the need of replacing the homes and communities of the displaced people affected by that storm, Fisk and Vittori have interested parties in developing GroHome communities in those affected states.


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CS10__Cubo Arquitectos' Door House

Cubo Arquitectos have addressed and presented a potential solution to provide for emergency shelter with their project Door House. The unassembled package is primarily composed of readily available building components such as hollow-core doors, pallets, and oriented-strand board. It is thought that this would allow for an easy and effective ‘packaging’ blitz to send to areas of disaster need.

The entire shelter is estimated to take 8 hours of assembly with 7 people. The pallets and OSB form the foundation/floor platform [Sorry, flat sites only.] on which the hollow doors are assembled to form the walls and ceilings. A steel tube frame is integrated into the design as well, forming a skeletal structure to support the plastic canvas that functions as the shelter’s roof. The shelter is anticipated to be worth three months of inhabitation.


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In history>> Hassan Fathy

Hassan Fathy is considered one of Egypt’s most prominent architects of modern times, known for his aspirations of returning to a vernacular style of building with the revival of indigenous materials and methods, primarily adobe construction techniques. He is most widely recognized for his project of a relocated village, New Gourna, near the Luxor Valley in Egypt. He featured the project in his most famous publication Architecture for the Poor.

New Gourna is an odd case study for one to claim as his most noted and highly acclaimed work, considering that it was abandoned and never really inhabited by its intended dwellers, a relocated community composed of a large portion of graverobbers. It is noted that perhaps the scale of the project combined with its then radical aspirations is its reason for the attention and praise it received from the international architectural community. Less than one-quarter of the entire village plan was ever realized.

Nevertheless, Fathy has inspired many of today’s designers and builders who share his vision of creating an appropriate and sustainable architecture for underprivileged peoples while at the same time fitting with their cultural identity.


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In history>> Buckminster Fuller

Perhaps no other Twentieth Century figure has had more influence on today’s aspiring individuals wishing to design in an effort to combat crisis as much as Buckminster Fuller has. However, Fuller, as his admirers have come to know him, almost never existed. Kicked out of Harvard twice and a self-proclaimed fraternity ‘misfit’, he considered suicide after compounded issues of financial and professional woes, alcohol abuse, and the death of daughter pushed him to the edge. An epiphany struck him in what were to be his last moments that he could somehow devote the rest of his life and his efforts to make an impact in the world for the betterment of humanity.

For the next five decades of his life, this man’s work accounted for dozens of books, patents, honorary doctorates, and design awards addressing issues in the arts and sciences, engineering, and humanities. Architecturally, he is most widely known for his invention of the geodesic dome, still considered the most efficient space-enclosing and cost-effective structural system in the world. Today there are an estimated 300,000+ geodesic structures in the world, and many of today’s emergency relief shelters and facilities take direct inspiration from this system.


Fuller BIO

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In bookstores>> WorldChanging

WorldChanging began a blog group that has since been dubbed as "solutions-based journalism," advocating design and activism to alleviate many of the world’s recognized crisis. The group now boasts of a team of contributers/writers/activists as well as a new published book that has a foreword by former U.S. Vice President and environmental activists Al Gore. The book is entitled Worldchanging: A User's Guide for the 21st Century and is currently available in bookstores.

Jamais Cascio and Alex Steffen started the group in October 2003.


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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

". . . a shelter for the soul," >> Rural Studio

Founded by Auburn professors Samuel “Sambo” Mockbee and D.K. Ruth in 1992, the Rural Studio set out to serve communities in need in rural Alabama. They intended to tackle substandard housing and facilities that had become prevalent and concentrated in certain counties and ended up focusing on Hale County. By the late 90’s the studio began to attract the attention of both professional and academic audiences for the projects that ranged between public community building to small private homes. After Sambo’s passing in 2001, Andrew Freear has since overseen the progress of the studio and its projects.

More than 450 students have now passed through the program and dozens of projects have been designed and realized by the efforts of the faculty, students, and community.


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Sunday, October 15, 2006

In action>> Design for Africa

Industrial designers Frank Hofmann and Staffan Weigel took on the mega-slum of Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya for a design initiative to tackle the problem of trash disposal and accumulation with their field project, Design for Africa [DFA]. Kibera is thought to be one of Africa’s largest slums and does not have an official municipality or local government, leaving it with dire public amenities. Some estimates project more 250,000 people per square kilometer in the settlement.

Setting up with some of Kibera’s organized community groups, they began to instruct community members in the basics of design and pushed it into design solutions for alleviating garbage and potentially making it a profitable venture of some sort. Different groups varied in their initiatives ranging from awareness through entertainment, a garbage collection and salvaging program, the design and production of collection bags, and bone jewelry production.


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In theory>> Lebbeus Woods

Radical Reconstruction-

None can deny the imaginative processes and drawings of Lebbeus Woods, but what is the reason and thinking behind the forms he creates? What is this ‘architecture’ a response to? Radical Reconstruction is a published book by Woods exhibiting projects from three cities--Sarajevo, Havana, and San Francisco—that all pertain to the notion of addressing a crisis at the periphery conditions of the urban forms.

These iterations of “walls” are meant to draw both attention as well as a correlation to contemporary society’s condition of crisis recognition and consciousness. The notion is put forth that the unavoidable realities of modern day crisis, be it man-made or natural, are seemingly brought to our attention while only at the outer limits and edges of what we would perceivably control in our minds or media perception. This is found to be especially true within the realm of the “crisis of consumer culture . . . [pretending] there is no crisis . . . .”

Although the projects and their fantastic forms and suggestions are beyond the reaches of viable construction and implementation, they should at least be considered valuable to concerned designers for the attention they call to the condition of how a majority of First World society thinks about crisis.


Radical Reconstruction [Woods 1997]

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In action>> Archeworks

Archeworks is a post-graduate academic+professional environment founded on the purpose of addressing areas of need and neglect in society through the use of interdisciplinary design. The program pulls from the creative arts disciplines such as graphic design, product design, architecture, film, and exploratory writing as well as other disciplines such as law, medicine, engineering, and sociology.

Archworks’ projects range from the merely theoretical to the realized execution, including education & awareness programs to advocacy plans to built designs. Most often, the projects involve real clients and target groups with real interaction and input from their perspectives and needs. In the end the group “believes . . . in the value of design, the poetics of design, and their meaning in society.”

The organization qualifies as a 501(c)3 group and was founded in Chicago by architect Stanley Tigerman and designer Eva Maddox in 1993 in Chicago.


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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

CS09__Godsell FutureShack

Originally submitted as part of the AFH Kosovo competition, Australian architect Sean Godsell put forth his own money to build the prototype FutureShack, a temporary housing solution for emergency relief situations.

The concept utilizes a non-descript shipping containing that is outfitted with a plywood interior that has been designed to accommodate the shelter’s program with built-in furniture, plumbing, and electrical components. A “parasol” roof is erected above the main structure to shade the structure and lessen any potential heat gains; it is said also that this roof structure is meant to begin to breathe life and a sense of home into the otherwise utilitarian design. The project also boasts of telescoping legs that are able to adapt to any presented terrain.


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CS08__Shelter Architecture Clean Hub

In an effort to address the needs of those affected by natural disasters, displacement, and mega-slum developments, Shelter Architecture has proposed the Clean Hub. This proposed structure provides in one facility the means for purifying water, collecting and storing solar-generated electricity, and encouraging safe and proper sanitation.

The entire unit is a pre-manufactured facility that is intended to function for upwards of 30 years. For water purification, the system uses reverse osmosis on water retrieved from an underground storage tank. The tank is intended to receive rain water, grey water from the unit’s showers, and existing on-site water sources. The solar electric feature can adapt as many as 16 photovoltaic panels, that are located on the roof structure. Sanitation includes two full bathroom with composting toilets.


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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

CS07__eMi Kobwin Children’s Center [Kobwin District, Uganda, East Africa]

In Northern Uganda, a conflict has raged on for nearly two decades with relatively very little attention or concern from the rest of the world; the Lord’s Resistance Army has waged terror and war in this land with its kidnapped child soldiers. Some of these children are able to escape or be taken back by the government troops, but special care and attention must be given to these children before they are to become a normal, contributing part of their communities again.

New Hope Uganda [NHU] is a ministry that is establishing a campus to specifically tend to the needs of these affected children. NHU approached the eMi office in Kampala, Uganda, to design the master plan for this campus on a 55-acre site. Largely modeled on NHU’s campus at Kasana, the designers adapted the special sectors of the program that called for intense counseling of the newly arrived children with the unique features of the site, using natural outdoor enclosures found among the large rock outcroppings to promote safe environments away from the perimeter. The rest of the site was designed to adapt the program of village pods and their surrounding land for agricultural cultivation as well as the education components that included a primary school and vocational school. NHU and the designers wished to draw from some of the indigenous building forms and materials, as to eliminate any institutional feel.

Currently, funds are being raised to undergo full-time building operations and some first-phase roads and buildings have been staked out.


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CS06__fieldoffice's Dry-In House [New Orleans, Louisiana, USA]

Beyond the destruction of New Orleans as rendered by Katrina’s winds and flooding, another crisis arose in the midst of the thousands displaced peoples of the region. Placement in the FEMA trailer parks has proved to be only a mundane and mediocre temporary solution at best. fieldoffice set out design and present an option for this situation, a solution meant to bring displaced families home quicker and with a sense of permanency. Based on previous studies and housing schemes that optimize the use of the truss manufacturing industry, the designers have come to propose the Dry-In House as a housing solution in New Orleans.

Using truss design as a means of allowing for individual customization of every home, the Dry-In House is proposing the opportunity to steer away from a situation primed for mass standardization. A potential home owner would simply dictate their roof form and ceiling form in section that would be extruded with trusses to give the house its form and enclosure. Trusses would arrive on-site by truck and soon be easily erected and assembled as the first generation of a custom home. The home would later evolve and take on more customized features as the homeowner chooses and applies materials from a variety of choices. Again with this proposal, families and neighborhoods are reestablished and “re-placed” on their original properties and the cost-efficient solution is a permanent in nature, unlike the mobile homes or house trailers.

Currently in Venice, the Dry-In House is part of the Searching for Resilient Foundations: The Gulf Coast after Katrina exhibit on display in the Italian Pavilion of the Giardini Biennale through mid November. [Visit Biennale online.]


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CS05__Cal-Earth SuperAdobe

Cal-Earth [The California Institute of Earth Art and Architecture] is a non-profit organization, led by Iranian-American architect Nader Khalili, has based it earthen architecture research and prototyping in applications ranging from lunar habitats to modern-day refugee.

The SuperAdobe structures are the signature flagship of the group and were first developed in 1992. Originally derived from a technology intended for human habitation of the moon and Mars, the lunar dust has been replaced with local soils and the Velcro has been replaced by barbed wired. The system is essentially a coiling stack of elongated sandbags that arranged to form a simple and efficient domed structure. The soil used has only a small alteration of added cement or lime.

SuperAdobe has been a proven product to help many humanitarian and refugee needs, winning the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2004. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees [UNHCR] as well as the United Nations Development Programme [UNDP] have adopted the procedure and application as part of its solutions for providing needed shelter throughout the world. In all, the SuperAdobe method of building has been put to use in Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Iran, India, Siberia, and Thailand.

Design Like You Give a Damn [AFH]

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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

CS04__Shigeru Ban's Paper Log Houses

Shigeru Ban is a practicing architect from Japan who has been experimenting with the use of paper-product materials in his architecture for nearly twenty years. In response to the Kobe earthquake of 1995, Ban organized and executed the erection of several temporary relief structures meant to house those who were still left homeless after the quake. The project later became known as the paper log house.

The concept uses paper tubes with thick walls that erected vertically side-by-side to form a load-bearing wall to receive another light-weight roof structure sheathed with a water repelling tent fabric. The tubes were sealed for waterproofing purposed and could be filled with shredded paper insulation. For a foundation and base, plastic beer crates were arranged into building footprint and weighted down with sandbags. The roof structure can be configured to allow for venting and passive cooling during summer months, and in the case of Kobe, they could easily be fitted with a heating unit that is conventionally used for typical housing in Japan. The overall time of assembly and construction for each unit is six hours.

Similar installations of the paper log house have been erected in Kenya, India, and Turkey. In those cases, local materials and building conventions were integrated with the original design to meet specific needs for the region.

Architectural Review, SEPT 1996

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CS03__WMI Living Water Treatment System

Water Missions International [WMI] was established in 1998 to address the needs of the numerous communities across the world without available clean water. Most conservative figures estimate that more than one billion people currently do not have access to clean water. WMI’s flagship project is the Living Water ™ Treatment System [LWTS™], a portable water purification assembly fabricated at their headquarters and shipped out to areas of need.

The LWTS™ is essentially a four-compartment unit comprised of three purified water holding tanks and a housing frame for the working components and filters for the system. With approximately four hours of set-up and four hours of training, the system is fully capable of producing 10 gallons of safe drinking water every minute and as much as 10,000 gallons per day. With the current operation design of filters and basic chlorination, the system is able to remove the vast majority of physical impurities and water-born diseases. Anticipated development of the LWTS™ will enable the system to rid treated water of salts, heavy metals, and pesticides.

Projects during the 2006 year include locations in Honduras, Peru, Dominican Republic, Nigeria, and Indonesia. WMI also launched many disaster relief projects during 2005 for communities affected by Katrina and the Tsunami in SE Asia.


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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

CS02__eMi Tsunami Village [Ongole, Andhra Pradesh, India]

Engineering Ministries International [eMi], based out of Colorado Springs, was asked to partner with Indian Christian Ministries [ICM] in an effort to address the needs of one of thousands of communities affected by the tsunami of late 2004. Using a week of time on the ground in India, the eMi’s volunteer designers went to work on a village community aimed at housing 50 families that had lost their homes in the devastation.

The eMi team had approximately three acres to work with, a plot of land purchased by the villagers. The houses were designed in a fashion to reflect the existing typologies of the area, consisting of a sizeable living+sleeping quarter accompanied by a porch and kitchen area as well. These houses also were equipped with concrete roofs, separate bathing and toilet facilities, and access to clean drinking water, unlike majority of the surrounding region. The house occupies about 300 SF on each of the 1550 SF lots. Each lot is also contains a garden that is fed by a grey water system supplied from wash areas.

The entire village is arranged and focused on a grouping of buildings containing a medical facility, a village administrative office, a school, and a church space.

>>Questions and Responses with Glenn Woodruff, eMi CEO + Project Leader + Architect

CCD>> Generally speaking, where are design professionals failing and succeeding in combating crisis with design?
Woodruff>> CCD suggests preemptive measures. In my experience opportunity to apply design that helps mitigate crisis comes as a response to an already, or sudden, crisis. Hopefully application of design in such settings does combat future crisis. For example several designers responded to the Tsunami of 2004 with design proposals of homes that might allow the force of a wave to travel through a structure without destroying it. The home allowed for structurally secure areas for the storage of valuables. However, such a design would likely not hold up through an event equal in magnitude to the waves that inspired the design.

CCD>> What do you see as an overlooked crisis currently in the world that could benefit from the attention + talents of creative designers?
Woodruff>> Most any refugee camp. Guidelines for designing such are minimal. I do not have the numbers at hand, but the number of people living in refugee status, or specifically in refugee camps is staggering. Designers should better respond to such situations. This is could be seen as preemptive only if the design of shelter in such settings allows for transition to more perminate structures. For example, materials used for constructing temporary structures can be recycled for use in permanent structure. The idea being that design encourages development.

CCD>> Does function or beauty plan a more important role of combating crisis with design?
Woodruff>> Both are important. Most would weigh in on function only. And it is true that function must be accommodated. But doing such not negate the option of beauty. Problems in implementing such do arise when we apply our western interpretation of beauty to another culture. We did the structural design for a series of habitat houses in Haiti . The houses were good solid masonry two room homes. The roof was a thin shell concrete roof, wave like in form. It was quite nice, beautiful, and a great design that combated the horrors of housing for the poor. The Haitian people would not move out of their mud floor grass huts into the new homes…reason…”the are not Haitian.”

CCD>> How do you educate and encourage design professionals about becoming more involved with projects of the nature that you typically undertake?
Woodruff>> Exposure of the opportunity to serve is key for us. We find that almost everyone wants to help the poor. They just do not know how. The unknowing is based in an accurate understanding (even fear). You don’t just walk into a slum and say I am here to help. That might get you killed. eMi provides an avenue to serve the poorest of poor. The network of relationships that empowers a design professional to go from his desk to a slum in India is an extensive network. If we can better expose the network (eMi) we find that people are excited and want to know more. In short, they want to be involved if we can just get word out to them.


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CS01__KHR Mobile AIDS Clinic [Sub-Sahara Africa]

In December 2002, KHR Architects [at the time, KHRAS Architects] out of Denmark won an international competition held by Architecture for Humanity to address the need for battling the AIDS epidemic in sub-saharan Africa through the use of mobile clinics. Designers who submitted entries were asked to make serious considerations for the ease of operational logistics of the actual mobile unit facility, economic feasibility for creating and deploying these units, and the units’ acceptance into indigenous communities.

KHR’s winning design, that was scheduled to be explored and developed further at the end of 2003 in part with the Africa Center for Health and Population Studies in South Africa, is a simple assembled frame inspired by the modularity of shipping containers. The design allows for a variety of delivery methods, depending on available transportation vehicles, as well as a variety of setups depending on the specific needs of teams and their selected region. Teams can determine if they have use for a one, two, or three-unit assembly based on their projected needs. The framing system allows for differentiating configurations as well as enclosed spaces beyond the frames for the extended medical and educational operations of the mobile unit. Local materials can be easily adapted into the setup and on-site design to form canopies or raised decks. Although the integration of local materials was intended to give the community acceptance and favor of the clinic, it is also intended by the designers that the simplicity of the frame and its boxed enclosures would signal shelter and safety to an indigenous observer before alarm.


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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Research Brief

The resulting devastation of Katrina in the United States last year forced thousands to flee their homes and scavenge for new shelters and were often set up in a temporary-becoming-permanent form of RV camps or other mobile, manufactured housing models. This was a "design solution" for tackling the crisis at hand. However, the majority of the world's population does not have access to the same wealth of goods and infrastructure that made this relief solution possible in the United States [though it still easily argued that it was poorly managed in a time of desperate time and need of crisis.] How can architects, designers, and aid workers continue to develop and improve on facilities and shelters that are erected in response to humanitarian needs and emergencies? How can a devastated or non-existent infrastructure be bypassed in sending "building materials" to affected areas in need? How can the local materials and knowledge base be used to create an advantage for erecting suitable relief structures? How can designers consider the temporary nature of relief structures as well as their potential for a prolonged permanency? What has been working, and what has not been working? Is it possible for one design solution to be successful in different climates and regions, factoring in different local materials and conditions? Is it possible for countries to eventually provide these solutions and supplies themselves, instead of them being forced to rely on aid from industrialized nations?

For this semester's directed study, I would like to examine progressive applications and techniques in designing shelter and relief facilities in the setting of underdeveloped or impoverished regions of the world, especially in realm of prolonged humanitarian need and natural disaster crises. A general and preliminary outline includes:

History/Past trends/Current trends/Future trends

Success/Failure of Design solutions
Success/Failure of delivery and execution
To the Design Community: Design philosophy and professional obligation/responsibility

Is there possibility for Poetry while addressing the immediate needs?

Natural disasters

Hurricanes in the Caribbean and Latin America
Tsunamis in SE Asia
Earthquakes in central Asia

Humanitarian crisis - Prolonged civil conflict OR drought/famine producing refugees and other displaced peoples

Northern Uganda and the LRA conflict
MegaSlums, as affecting the personal welfare and health of its dwellers
Latin America
Suweto - Johanesburg, ZA

Materials + Methods

Earthen construction
Paper construction
Possibilities with Plastics
Possibilities with digital manufacturing processes

Other material+methods trends