American Academy Blog

Addressing Urban Poverty in Informal Settlements Through the Use of Passive Biotecture and Community Development

April 2, 2014 at 10:52 am Comments are off for this post

Biotecture and green architecture provide a unique opportunity to not only address issues of homelessness due to natural disaster and the health risks associated with informal settlements, but also provide solutions for environmental sustainability using a passive green design that allows for a significant opportunity of interdisciplinary collaboration while strengthening the community.

Passive green biotecture utilizes recycled solid waste such as tires, cans, bottles, and other materials integrated through unique strategies that ultimately provide self-sustainable homes that do not rely on public utilities or fossil fuels. The use of waste materials for these types of construction projects can reduce the harmful impact this waste can have on the residents of the community as well as the local environment.

The health of our communities is intimately connected to the health of our environment. Inadequate solid waste management and water sanitation results in unsafe living environments and disease, putting the most vulnerable people in our communities at greater risk of illness. Issues of waste management and safe housing are of particular importance for individuals residing in informal settlements in developing countries, commonly known as slums.

Passive green designed homes and structures provide a solution to two grand challenges: addressing the unsuitable living environments for individuals residing in areas in need of disaster relief as well as the need to develop a sense of community in those areas struggling most. Illnesses related to water supply, waste disposal and garbage afflict individuals living in these settlements on a daily basis.

Through the use of sweat equity, or encouraging residents to participate in the construction of their home and the homes of their neighbors, this particular solution creates a space for community members to not only engage with one another, but fosters a sense of ownership over their own homes. Through providing not only immediate relief, but a strategic plan and continuing programing which supports the development of a sustainable community by its members to include such things as the construction of playgrounds, community centers, schools and other areas, addresses both immediate relief needs and long term community development.