The other side of the temporary shelter debate: Capacity of locals to design and build houses

Still on the temporary bunkhouses in Tacloban, it is a matter of course that an evaluator assessing the efficiency of a project makes a comparison of models.  The bunkhouse project as it is looks like this

via Thomas Reuters Foundation

Now, there is, apart from the ones featured in previous posts, a DIY model that is the brainchild of Alastair Parvin, the man behind Wikihouse, an “open source construction set that lets anyone download, design, and print CNC-milled, easy to assemble houses”. 

via Metropolis Magazine

Parvain explains his idea in his talk at TED, Architecture for the People by the People

I believe, along with Parvain and the others, a belief based on a decade of field experience and observations, that, given the resources and supervision, carpenters and even builder-hobbyists in the villages, young and old alike, can put up their own houses as well as the needed number of houses in post-disaster areas around the country. This essentially is the practical meaning of the right to housing: the right to build the roof I need over my own head.

There was enthusiastic talk in the aftermath of Haiyan about work-pay schemes for displaced persons which was on hindsight merely talk as evidenced by DPWH’ outsourcing of the bunkhouse project to a private firm (that in turn hired locals only as laborers which is the status quo with private builders).  The Parvain model provides an alternative way of doing the work which fits in with the envisioned work-pay and empowerment arrangement for affected locals.  The model, on the whole, adds up to big savings not to mention the nonmonetary benefits of joy, improved confidence, and community building among the participants. The DPWH bunkhouse project model, as it is currently constructed, is, on the other hand, the result of a traditional imagination that is not anymore relevant in present times. This is all water under the bridge, but nonetheless one can’t say enough of the very unfortunate circumstance that the affected who have already transferred to the bunkhouses find themselves in on a daily basis as a result of that imagination.   


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