FuturArc – Community Development
SMALL PROJECTS, BIG IMPACTS, by Y-Jean Mun-Delsalle
It’s not the size that matters. Small projects can make a big impact. Community-supported construction of sustainable and appropriate facilities is an effective social development concept, proving that architecture in underserved areas is more than development aid or environmentally-friendly construction, but a means for building a community. These projects combine traditional building materials and technologies with clever design solutions that protect the natural environment and also place great emphasis on actively engaging the local population in the construction process. Buildings constructed by the local community result not only in a series of sustainable structures, but also a newfound sense of identity, self-reliance and enhanced social cohesion, generating positive impacts upon the social environment by creating opportunities for education, job creation and training. The construction process effectively forms an important part of the transfer of knowledge, whereby locals acquire new building skills that may be reused and taught to others. It’s a matter of empowering local craftsmen to learn for themselves that freely-available materials like clay, stone and wood encompass all the properties necessary to build in their respective geographic and climatic context, and that a village that works together also grows together.
A secondary school project in Gando, Burkina Faso; a community house in Ta Phin, Vietnam; and a dental polyclinic and library in Batu, Indonesia—though these construction projects intelligently leverage the site’s characteristics and locally-available materials, they demonstrate that Green building is not just about the architecture, but also about being socially-engaged. They integrate social and environmental performance for improved quality of life, demonstrating a successful approach combining the adaptive use of building materials, climatic mitigation, aesthetics and community development. Suitable for wide-scale application and the multiplication of the projects’ features, their far-reaching potential help their respective communities to develop a healthy pride and hope and, at the same time, to create a solid base for their development.