Back on May 2009 DK and I faced the end of our graduate studies at the GSD and a hostile economic climate. We knew the issues we were interested on pursuing but did not yet have a project. It was then that we decided to go on a research trip to Colombia and see what we could learn.
While in Colombia we went everywhere from the presidential palace in Bogota to the barrio Lleras (comuna 3) in the port city of Buenaventura. The trip opened our eyes to many things, but perhaps nothing was as helpful as understanding the scale of the problem. Colombian government officials estimate that the country needs at least one million housing units, and that number grows every day.
It was in that context that Gisselle Cifuentes, our host and head of local non-profit promujer, introduced us to Desiderio Moreno. Desiderio is the head of of La Union a housing co-op that is looking to build a 50-unit low-income housing project in Facatativa (locally called simply FACA). We began by meeting Desiderio, educating him on what an architect does and explaining how we could help them.
Slideshow of the site for a 50-unit low-income housing project in Facatativa, Colombia.
Excited, Desiderio called for a meeting of La Union members to introduce us. We used that opportunity to talk to the community and better understand their needs. Together we developed something akin to a logical framework for the project by which the community helped us identify the most important problems our design needs to respond to.
Community meeting images – slideshow
We are currently developing the project largely thanks to a Boston Society of Architects grant. More on the status of the designs and the research soon.