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Competition: Habitat for Inhabitants, Lima

An open international contest has been announced for a new $1,300 prototype home for slum communities in Lima, Perù (Deadline: 9 November)

Backed by non-profit organisations DNADD and Techo Perù, the competition seeks innovative proposals for a new flat pack and modular 18-25m² home for the sprawling city where an enormous 3m-high ‘wall of shame’ was recently erected to divide wealthy and poor neighbourhoods.

The project aims to identify a new prototype dwelling to replace an existing standard design provided by Techo for inhabitants of slum communities. Proposals should be sustainable, self-constructible in a few days and feature electricity generating and water gathering technologies.

Improvised housing in Lima

Improvised housing in Lima

Improvised housing in Lima

According to the brief: ‘Lima not only is Peru’s capital, but also its most populated city. The city is undergoing a continuous change even though its biggest contradiction remains unchanged: a 3m wall that runs over 10km separates people of different social states.

‘The barren landscape dominates one side of the wall, revealing no green areas and only a few streets. This area is rarely reached with water supply and electricity, with many houses manually build, up to the top of the mountain. Conversely, on the other side of the wall luxury residences can be seen surrounded by thriving vegetation, as well as swimming pools, high rises and many infrastructures for the population. The division is strong.’

Founded by Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro in 1535, Lima is today home to 9 million people, making it the second largest city in the Americas after Sao Paulo. Around 70 per cent of the population live in slums – known as pueblos jóvenes or young towns – with limited access to water, electricity and educational opportunities.

Improvised housing in Lima

Improvised housing in Lima

Improvised housing in Lima

The non-profit organisation Techo Perù has pioneered a modular 18m² home which it delivers with the help of volunteers to slum areas throughout the country. The latest competition aims to identify a new and improved alternative to this design.

The competition is open to teams of up to four members featuring at least one member aged under 35. Submissions should respond to the area’s unique dry climate and feature a family, bathroom, kitchen and garden module. Concepts may be up to 25m² and could include room for expansion up to 35m².

Applications must include a single A1 display board and a short written report of 1,000 characters. The competition language is English and judges include Walter Juan Pablo Soto of Urban 95 Lima, Gonzalo Talavera of Techo Perù, and Maria Antonia Barucco from IUAV University in Venice.

The overall winner will receive €1,000 and the opportunity to take part in the construction of their scheme. A second prize of €700 and third prize of €300 will also be awarded.

How to apply

Deadline

The deadline for applications is 9 November.

Fee

Early registration until 27 September: €60
Regular registration from 28 September to 9 November: €80

Contact details

Email: info@dnadd.org

Visit the competition website for more information

Living Units case study: Q&A with AKTII

The London engineering practice discusses lessons learned designing a new demountable timber pod house for harsh environments around the world

How did your project deliver a low-cost self-build living unit for use around the world?

The Living Units project started as research into timber construction in extreme environments enables relocation to the coldest and hottest climates on the planet. This was achieved with a simple and economic timber frame reinforced by a plywood skin to form a robust, but light and transportable, structure. The simplicity of the structure makes it buildable quickly and economically, both with automated factory processes or by local, relatively unskilled, labourers. If produced in a factory, the units can be shipped and assembled locally or built and assembled locally. Geometrically the units can be assembled in different configurations to allow larger or smaller living arrangement s and needs.

Living Units by OFIS Architects with AKT II

Living Units by OFIS Architects with AKT II

Source: Image by Permiz Doo

Living Units by OFIS Architects with AKT II

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

Timber is a natural, renewable and human-friendly material, making it ideal for a living unit, where occupants can personalise and transform the internal and external surfaces, adapting them to different uses at different times. The material is also extremely light relative to its strength, lending itself to easy and economic transportation, and allowing multiple stacking configurations of the units. They can be used as holiday cabins, a hideaway, tree houses or short-time habitations for research, tourism or shelter. The basic unit can contain habitation for 2 people. If needed, two or more cabins can be combined to create a larger habitation that could inhabit 4-6 people. They can be combined vertically or horizontally.

Living Units by OFIS Architects with AKT II

Living Units by OFIS Architects with AKT II

Source: Image by Janez Martincic

Living Units by OFIS Architects with AKT II

What advice would you have to contest participants on designing a modular housing system for Lima?

Designing modular housing in Lima would require research into the most economic way to procure and construct the units. Depending on the number of units required and the availability of local labour, one would need to decide whether this should be a volumetric, flat pack or elemental assembly or a combination of them. One would also need to consider how these would be financed and owned. Lifestyle would also need to be taken into consideration in order to allow the necessary future flexibility, adaptability and scalability of the system to respond to the need of a growing or shrinking family. Living Units was an OFIS Architects with AKT II engineer collaboration, which joined research and practice, design and construction in a seamless process.

Living Units by OFIS Architects with AKT II

Living Units by OFIS Architects with AKT II

Source: Image by Permiz Doo

Living Units by OFIS Architects with AKT II

Q&A with Elisa Montalti and Simona Fabbri

The organisers discuss their ambitions for the competition

Elisa Montalti and Simona Fabbri

Elisa Montalti and Simona Fabbri

Elisa Montalti and Simona Fabbri

Why are your holding an international contest for modular self-build housing solutions for Lima’s poorest neighbourhoods?

In today’s dynamics, those who are commonly categorised as ‘poor’ are in fact regular individuals who happened to dwell in an environment lacking opportunities. Donating these people a home of their own is simply donating the opportunity to improve their living conditions, a model for the foundation of their future.

Following various personal experiences as volunteers with the NGO Techo, our valued partner in this project, we witnessed how numerous new ideas kept coming up on how to impact and fulfil all the different needs of the current home. The idea of the competition (‘Concorso’ in Italian, from the Latin cum-currere, to run together) came from the desire of running together towards a common goal, of creating a big workshop of participatory architecture able to tackle all of these necessities through a new, innovative and efficient framework. The project for a modular self-build housing unit constraint by minimum dimensions and budget resources is extremely challenging and complex. It is this particular complexity that mandates a true international reach of the competition: to research and provide the best possible available answer to the challenges and necessities of the project.

Improvised housing in Lima

Improvised housing in Lima

Improvised housing in Lima

What is your vision for the new low-cost modular housing?

When it comes to dealing with overwhelmingly vast cities made up of informal buildings, the key is to operate and plan to avoid improvising. Sustainability and technological innovations make up a vital role in the research of a new low-cost modular housing. The exploration of technical knowledge, both in terms of efficiency of means of construction and of versatility/adaptability to different scenarios represents the starting and ending point of this new standard. The second aspect is equally important which is the social dimension. The project includes the design of a modular, replicable housing unit. This shall not translate into anonymity and iteration but instead emphasize the adaptability to different types of families, the flexibility to an infinite number or personalizations.

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

We believe that great transformations begin in dreams. The are no geographical limits, the competition is open to all those students and young architects who are interested and convinced to be able to play a role in such a transformation. Moreover, the competition is aimed at determining a substantial impact on the society, at breaking down the walls by bringing together the inhabitants of the poor districts and people who can create new solutions, and, consequently, at building freedom and equality through architecture.

Improvised housing in Lima

Improvised housing in Lima

Improvised housing in Lima

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

We believe that a high percentage of social problems arises from the lack of education, which constitutes a right and duty for many people, while a lack for many others. The Association, for instance, will answer people’s needs by developing projects aimed at educating the community throughout architecture. It is widely accepted that a high percentage of social problems arises from the lack of education, which constitutes a right and duty for many people, while unfortunately many others suffer from its complete lack. In response to this, every form of architecture is donated to the communities as an educational model. The Association, for instance, will answer people’s needs by developing projects aimed at educating the community through architecture from public areas to recreational ones, libraries, houses or community halls.

Are there any other recent modular self-build housing projects you have been impressed by?

Two projects of Natura Futura firm have positively inspired us. The first point concerns the composition of the house: the wall becomes a window, the window becomes a chair, and the roof is watering the garden. Moreover, a second aspect relates to the use of a modular element that has, on the other hand, resulted in infinite configurations reflecting their inhabitants.

(1. Proyecto Chacras, Ecuador, Natura Futura Arquitectura, 2016)

(2. Ciudad Dormitorio, Lima Perù, Natura Futura Arquitectura, 2017)