A Different Kind of Humanitarian Architecture


Our Thursday green news brings you the latest on green architecture, climate change, energy and communities:

Humanitarian Architecture

The Rana House: photo courtesy of Made in Earth

  • A different kind of humanitarian architecture: Even though the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu has the third-largest GDP in India and a literacy rate of over 90%, the state suffers from a shortage of housing, high rate of poverty and job insecurities. An Italian NGO Made in Earth (MiE) works specifically in this region focusing on housing, community health, and cultural projects. As Flavia Scognamillo, one of the group’s architects explains: “The goal is to create an integrated network of buildings and activities to benefit needy local people in Tamil Nadu region, following them from early childhood and continuing through their education and beyond.” For example, the Rana House (pictured above) was designed as a small caring and living center for fifteen HIV-positive children and their mothers.
  • A new building structure made from self-growing mushrooms: The Hy-Fi project won 2014 Young Architects Program by MoMA PS1 and will be constructed in the museum courtyard this summer. The structure is made from organic material that can be turned into fertilizer, presenting a radical, zero-waste building technology and a future construction alternative inspired by biology. The construction bricks will be grown from mycelium, or mushroom cells that grow upwards and outwards like a branch. And in combination with agricultural waste like corn stalks, these materials fuse and shape into a solid brick or any shape the architect desires. As David Benjamin, director of Columbia University’s Living Architecture Lab, stated: “It’s really inexpensive, almost cheaper than anything. It emits no carbon, it requires almost zero energy, and it doesn’t create any waste–in fact it almost absorbs waste. We think that’s a pretty new and pretty revolutionary way of making building materials.”
green architecture, design innovation

Photo courtesy of MoMA PS1

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