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

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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