The New South Wales bushfires that have been ravaging parts of Australia since September 2019 have inspired a group of local architects to provide disaster relief in a manner fitting of their profession, free of charge. There are currently over 200 registered architects and over 400 architecture students volunteering to represent Architects Assist (AA), a nonprofit organization that, according to their website, is dedicating their resources and collective expertise to "to enable those affected by the present and future disasters to rebuild their lives, either by themselves or with help from the community, at once or in stages, with minimum amount of money." The nonprofit will respond to inquiries on their website by connecting those affected with members of the design team to determine how best they can help. In most cases, its members will plan and design structures to replace what individuals, small business and communities have lost to the fires. The design outcomes, the organization ensures, will be resilient to future natural disasters, comprised of sustainably-sourced materials, spatially efficient, and as inexpensive as possible to construct. The group was established by Jiri Lev of Atelier Jiri Lev, a local architecture firm specializing in sustainable building, urban design, and humanitarian work. "With the growing scale of the disaster," Architects Assist explains, "it soon became obvious that the resources of individual firms will not be sufficient to assist all those requiring help, and so Architects Assist was established." The group operates as a country-wide network rather than as an organization with a central office, to address the fact that many of the fires are located in regions without a surplus of architecture offices to provide services. Architects Assist has already enlisted a significant number of registered architects and students since forming on January 3, and are still seeking potential volunteers to apply on their website.
Posts tagged with "Disaster Housing":
Autodesk is making a bet on the future of prefabrication for disaster housing with an investment in FactoryOS and the company’s California-based “Rapid Response Factory.” In addition to allowing the startup to begin experimenting with constructing post-natural disaster homes on the factory floor, the funding will reportedly allow the Bay Area startup to create a Factory Floor Learning Center that will focus on housing policy in partnership with UC Berkeley’s Terner Center for Housing Innovation. FactoryOS founder Rick Holiday explained to Fast Company that after several major natural disasters in California, like the recent forest fires, he received requests to build disaster housing; however, the company was not equipped to meet that demand, nor to build the smaller homes required. Thanks to the investment from Autodesk, Holiday told Fast Company that FactoryOS is “going to explore if [they] can create a standardized unit that could be used for supportive housing, or could be stitched together to create a small-to-medium to a larger-sized building after a natural disaster quickly.” FactoryOS has been able to streamline homebuilding through vertically integrating the construction process and creating a factory floor that can be used in all weather by union labor while easily integrating digital design and manufacturing. They claim that this precision has allowed them to reduce waste over traditional construction by as much as 40 percent, and costs by over 30 percent. The company believes that prefabrication could be a major answer during this time of national housing crises, when productivity in construction is not only stagnating but decreasing. At the moment, FactoryOS reports that they can create four-to-six apartment units in a day, however, with their continued growth and the addition of the Rapid Response Factory, they are hoping to bring that number up to as many as 16 units in 2021. According to Fast Company, this new deal will also require intensive data collection and tracking of social impact metrics, as well as environmental impact and cost. FactoryOS, which previously received an investment from Alphabet, has also just received an influx of cash from a Citigroup-funded incubator focused on affordable housing, according to The Verge's weekly newsletter.
Shigeru Ban, the Pritzker Prize laureate known for his humanitarian work, is lending his design talents to earthquake-ravaged Nepal. Ban's Voluntary Architects’ Network (VAN) will start by distributing tents that can serve as shelter and medical stations. Then, over the next few months as conditions in the country stabilize, VAN will expand its presence by working with local universities to build housing and community facilities that are based on the prototypes of Ban's other post-disaster work. In a 2013 Ted Talk (below), Ban explains his humanitarian work, which started 20 years ago, when he built shelters made out of recycled paper tubes for Rwandan refugees. https://youtu.be/q43uXdOKPD8 To donate to VAN's current efforts in Nepal, visit Shigeru Ban's website. [h/t ArchRecord]
In New York City’s post-Sandy life, the important issue of provisional housing after a disaster is more prominent than ever. Although the plans will not affect those impacted by the recent storm, over the past five years the Bloomberg administration has been quietly developing modular apartment blocks for disaster housing relief consisting of ever-adaptable shipping containers. Relief housing for future emergencies could be quickly trucked in and stacked to create housing for dozens of displaced residents. The design prototype constructed by New Jersey shipping company, Sea Box, takes the 480 square feet of a shipping container and converts it into a fully furnished modular one-bedroom apartment. Each unit can then be stacked one upon another with the idea that a large parking lot or playground could serve as a location for its speedy construction after a disaster. Officials believe the boxes would serve as a more viable and durable disaster-housing solution for NYC than FEMA trailers. Each module is expected to be reusable up to 20 times and cost between $50,000 to $80,000. The hope is that FEMA could cover most if not all of the expenses. Uniquely answering NYC’s need for housing density in a compact area, the container solution was borne from a 2007 competition—titled WhatIfNYC—where entrants were asked to consider various criteria related to the urban disaster environment including the ability to house large numbers of people, be rapidly deployable, comfortable, inexpensive, and energy efficient. To test the proposal the Office of Emergency Planning will construct a 16-unit prototype in Brooklyn, which they hope to complete by the end of 2013. FEMA and the Army Corps are tentatively on board as the model is constructed, but final approval from the city has yet to be declared.