Monday, May 4, 2009

In the newspaper!

They have changed our text and turned us into a ONG, we find it an enormous honor to be in the paper La Verdad

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Presentation 24 04 09

Open Source House: On the road

The last 2 months we have gathered a lot information about the manner in which barrios are built. Which in the last 50 years has consolidated to something you could call a tradition of construction which is passed down through word of mouth, based on a trial and error process.
We have learned what the predominant building materials are, where they’re from, and how they are used to build.
We noticed also that a lot of professionals and institutions are busy with creating innovative strategies on improving their housing quality in the barrios, but the dispersal of this information, structurally lacks. A very important issue is that the enormous existing and self-constructed housing stock is absolutely not resistant against seismic earthquakes, long and heavy rainfalls, and structurally lack many other services.
So besides building better new houses, many existing houses are in need of immediate of improvement.

The three questions we got out of this were:

How can you spread knowledge?
How can innovation reach the barrios?
How can you help people reinforce their houses?

Open Source House is an internet based knowledge network. The only problem is that the people for who Open Source House could be useful, in the most of the cases don’t have internet, and if they do would never think of using it for this purpose.
Basically, this means that the information will never reach them.

The proposal: “How to built my house mobile”.

The idea is to make a distinct mobile vehicle which once in a while goes around to barrios with professionals, volunteers and in our case governmental organizations. This mobile should include knowledge, books, materials, toolkits, maps etc.

The collaboration of institutions that will run the mobile-project should structurally be in contact with the international world and for example Open Source House thus, introducing innovations like new materials, construction methods, water and waste systems etc.

Our Focus:

Our architectural assignment will focus on a retrofit-kit to reinforce houses against earthquakes, which is the biggest threat for Venezuela. At the end we want to design a kind of a toolkit which includes all the materials, tools and explanations so people can reinforce their casa or rancho themselves.

Slideshow 3 - Venezuela

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Halfway Presentation

The next weeks we will be finishing up the survey and interpretting the data. Almost every survey was accompanied by long conversations, which didn´t speed up the survey but gave us loads and loads of insights and perpectives from the local community.

The 24th of april we´re inviting various groups (Red Cross, Civil Service, Autoridad Unica, Corpovargas), who were involved in the reconstruction to show what we found so far.

Based on what we have found so far in Macuto, and the feedback from the presentation, we´ll propose several in depth interviews in other cities. Basically, we´ll be testing some of the lessons and hypothesis we´ve learned in Macuto, and if they have regional validity.

Tragedia del Mocoties (2005)

This week is Semana Santa in Venezuela; Holy week. For us a reason to depart from our research area, Macuto, because of a massive inflow from Venezuelan tourists into El Litoral. This means a lot of regaeton, alcohol, litter and crime!

We have chosen to go to Merida (located in the east of Venezuela), due to the beautiful landscape, it being a reknown safe/student city, and the possibility for another comparative case study called Tragedia del Mocoties in 2005.

In the valley of Mocotíes, intense and prolonged rainfall caused several landslides in the Santa Cruz de Mora in 2005, resulting in 70 deaths and a lot more affected.

It will be interesting to see how they deal with the reconstruction of a similar type of disaster, in another part of Venezuela. We will soon post our findings on the blog.

Another fun twist to our trip to Merida was our meeting with a paraglider / aerial photographer. By coincidence he photographed the entire coastline from his paraglider. He has offered to share the photos, and maybe make a trip in the air with us. An amazing opportunity, which we obviously will pursue.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


We are currently starting a survey, which you can download in the download section (it is in Spanish).
The data corresponds to households of addresses in a disaster struck area. The same survey is distributed in the formal as well as the formal area of town. The data will be processed into maps that will reveal certain info on the current, disaster and intermediate situation in Macuto.

Last night (31-3-09) we had a meeting with the committee of housing of the barrio in Macuto (read report: Conjunto de Vivienda), they offered to help us and distribute and pick up surveys, in exchange for recieving all the maps when we leave, as well as adding in a few questions.

Next to the community, we have a meeting with the Red Cross on thursday, who offered to enter areas for interviews etc, which currently are to dangerous for us to enter. In that case they will send in personel to do the survey’s and accompany us dressed in IFRC outfits, which supposedly is one of the few things that give absolute safety in this country.