September 17 2007

Design Steps Up in Disaster's Wake

by Allison Arieff / NYT

It is a Greenline mantra that design makes a difference; what better example than the work of Architecture for Humanity in Biloxi, Miss. Shown is the first house of the Biloxi Model Home Program, designed by Brent Zamore. The New York Times writes about how AFH pulled this together: “Everyone was trying to serve the residents with just one piece of the puzzle,” said Sherry-Lea Bloodworth, the Gulf Coast development director of Architecture for Humanity. “If you send someone out the door with a loan but nothing else, they are completely lost.”

In the spring of 2006, Architecture for Humanity invited 26 architects, chosen on the basis of geographical proximity and reputation, to design houses that were affordable and could conform to a labyrinthine set of structural requirements. The architects were to be given a stipend for expenses but provided their design services for free. Thirteen responded, and last August they presented their designs to the seven families and the town of Biloxi at an Architecture for Humanity-sponsored house fair held downtown in a Salvation Army Quonset hut. Each family was allowed to choose its architect (even if another family had chosen the same one), a highly unusual form of client empowerment in this kind of housing competition.

“It was like an architectural flea market,” said Marlon Blackwell, an architect from Fayetteville, Ark., whose design was chosen by Richard Tyler, a single father with two children. “We were essentially singing for our supper, promoting the virtues of our respective schemes.”

Read the whole story in The New York Times

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