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Competition: Emergency Housing in Mexico

An open international contest has been announced for new temporary housing prototype to boost living conditions throughout Mexico (Deadline: 3 July)

Open to architects and architecture students in teams of up to four – the competition seeks fast and easy-to-construct concepts for a minimum USD $1,000 home which can be assembled on site by up to 10 adults within 2 days.

The call for concepts is organised by ArchStorming and supported by non-profit volunteer agency TECHO which provides modular homes in low-income rural and urban areas across Latin America. Proposals must rethink, adapt or expand an existing 18m² modular dwelling unit pioneered by TECHO.

TECHO prototype emergency housing

TECHO prototype emergency housing

TECHO prototype emergency housing

According to the brief: ‘Archstorming is calling for proposals to redesign the current emergency house model of TECHO. The winning proposal will be used as a new model and it will be built all across the country for those who need it.

‘Each house unit has to be composted of at least a basic module. That is the main space of the house, where the family spends most of their time. That space will include a night area where they will sleep, as well as a daytime living area. Interior divisions between them are up to you.’

Mexico is the fifth largest country in the America’s and the most populous Spanish-speaking state in the world with 120 million inhabitants. The country features a warm climate with both wet and dry seasons and large temperature variations between highland and lowland areas.

Across Mexico large numbers of people live in temporary and irregular slum settlements. In the capital, Mexico city, around 859 slums host more than 40,000 homes with an area of 2,700 hectares housing 241,853 people.

TECHO was created in 1997 to reduce poverty across Latin America and has mobilised more than a million volunteers over the past two decades to deliver 115,000 homes. The organisation has pioneered a modular 18m² home which it delivers with the help of volunteers to slum areas throughout the continent.

The latest competition seeks proposals for a new prototype which could be used to help low-income families throughout Mexico and suitable for a range of different terrains. TECHO is also supporting a similar contest for new prototype housing for Peru and Paraguay.

Submissions should respond to the area’s unique climate and feature a family room along with additional bathroom, kitchen and others modules. Concepts may be as small as 18m² or up to 40m² for larger families.

The judging panel will include four TECHO staff along with architects from Australia, Brazil and Italy. The overall winner, to be announced 18 July, will receive a €10,000 first prize. A second prize of €5,000; third prize of €3,000; fourth prize of €1,500; 5th place prize of €500 and 10 honourable mentions will also be awarded.

How to apply

Deadline

The deadline for submissions is 23:59 local time (PDT) on 3 July

Fee

€50+ VAT -to- €150+ VAT

Contact details

Email: info@archstormig.com

View the competition website for more information

Q&A with Javier Pulido

The co-founder of Archstorming discusses his ambitions for the competition

Javier Pulido

Javier Pulido

Javier Pulido

What is your vision for the new emergency housing for Mexico?

The focus of this competition is to create a house that can adapt to the very different needs of the people living in Mexican slums. TECHO should be able to build a house for a family of (for example) six members as well as a family of 12. Their current model can’t adapt to other realities, and that’s something they need to change in order to maximize the efficiency of the building and comfort of the families. Also, they want to add new extensions to the houses, such as bathroom or kitchen. These extra modules can be added depending on each family’s situation. The current module has an area of 18sqm and does not accept any change.

What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?

The competition is open to architecture students and professional architects, but we hope that other people such as engineers or designers are willing to participate too. There’s no limitation, everyone can participate as long as they have a good idea. In previous competitions we’ve had winners coming from architecture schools, universities and professional firms.

TECHO prototype emergency housing

TECHO prototype emergency housing

TECHO prototype emergency housing

Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?

We will be launching more competitions this year. All of them will be built so it is a great chance for students and undiscovered talents to have their first building in real life. We will soon release a new competition where we are partnering up with MOM I’M FINE and Los Amigos de la Esquina, an NGO that works with kids in Tulum, Mexico.

Are there any other emergency housing projects you have been impressed by?

Yes, we really liked the ‘Just a minute’ house by the italian firm Barberio Colella ARC. They designed an emergency house following the earthquake of Nepal in 2015. The house is able to hold 4 to 10 people, and it is very easy to install by volunteers. We actually liked the proposal that much, that we got in touch with them and they will be part of our jury team for the Emergency Housing Mexico competition.

TECHO prototype emergency housing

TECHO prototype emergency housing

TECHO prototype emergency housing

Casa case study: Q&A with Hue Studio

The Spanish practice discusses lessons learned designing a second place-winning proposal for new TECHO housing in Paraguay

How did your contest second place scheme set out a viable proposal for emergency housing in Paraguay?

We believe that the flexibility of our proposed unit allows it to host other uses and contents that differ from the existing housing prototype. The concept aims to foster a more sustainable model, developing new social and environmental programmes for the community such as collecting water, and providing a common greenhouse and a shared chicken coop.

The idea was to deliver a place where inhabitants can share and build a new community. This would be a place where architecture takes an active role and embraces a moral duty to work together to deliver progressive social change for future occupants.

Casa proposal by Hue Studio

Casa proposal by Hue Studio

Casa proposal by Hue Studio

Which architectural, material, visual and other methods did you harness in your design?

Our aim was to create a housing prototype capable of responding to an urgent need for emergency dwellings, as well as establishing a new social, collective and environmental space for the existing community.

That being said, we designed a single modular unit that could be appropriated by different families with endless possibilities for progressive growth. The result was a typology with a capacity for extension, designed as one single structure but with multiple building enclosures. Reflecting specific and changing needs, and local resources and inhabitants – we decided that it was better to create an architectural system with diverse and varied material possibilities rather than having a specific material with a single constructive solution.

Casa proposal by Hue Studio

Casa proposal by Hue Studio

Casa proposal by Hue Studio

What advice would you have to contest participants on designing new emergency dwellings for Mexico based in your previous experience?

Basically, to have in mind that the project is for a specific context, with its social, historic and cultural background. For us, most of the time we spent on the competition was dedicated to studying, learning and understanding local needs, education and culture.

In our proposal we designed a housing prototype based on the long-established and traditional Kuláta Jovái vernacular style of architecture. This is the product of the culture and climate of the Guaraní area, developed in some territories of the South America and represented in the literature, music and the plastic art works of painters such as Florencio Molina Campos.

Casa proposal by Hue Studio

Casa proposal by Hue Studio

Casa proposal by Hue Studio