Client: Prajnopaya Foundation
End User: Displaced Residents of Galle
Location: Balapitya, Galle, Sri Lanka
Size: 400 SF
Cost per Unit: $1,500
Date: 12/2004 - 08/2005
Nour Jallad was one of the founders of Tsunami Design Initiative, the team that collaborated on the design and implementation of the project.
Design Team: Harvard GSD Tsunami Design Initiative, MIT Senseable City Laboratory
Faculty Adviser: Michelle Addington
Structural Engineers: Buro Happold
Image Credit: Tsunami Design Initiative, MIT Senseable City Laboratory
Publication: Metropolis, February 2006; 'Design Like You Give a Damn: Architectural Responses to Humanitarian Crises', Architecture for Humanity, 2006.
Context, Concepts, and Strategy
This project began in the wake of the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster of December 2004, when a group of five students at Harvard Design School won an MIT competition where we studied post-tsunami recovery planning for Sri Lanka, and presented our proposal at USAID in Washington, DC. We then founded Tsunami Design Initiative (TDI), to continue research studies on post-disaster planning. We also teamed with MIT Senseable City Lab on a housing project.
After the tsunami, most governments in the affected countries announced policies to resettle the population away from the coastline. For instance, in January 2005, the Sri Lanka Public Security Ministry announced new building restrictions prohibiting construction within 100m/yards (in the Southwest) or 200m/yards (in the Northeast) from the sea. The policy, known as the 100-Meter Rule was however too difficult for governments to enforce, since it comes at a high social, cultural, environmental and economic cost. The aim of our housing project was to investigate the development of design strategies that could allow residents to relocate while ensuring future safety at a lower cost.
The team developed Safe(R) house, a dwelling designed with a particular core configuration and porosity giving it the ability to withstand wave forces five times stronger than regular houses. The house also incorporated the use of readily available materials, local building methods and sustainable design strategies, making it cost effective and easy to replicate. The C-shaped core was also developed as part of a modular system allowing variation and expansion. The system could also be expanded to create different options for community centers and other buildings. London-based engineers Buro Happold tested the design using structural modeling and analysis as well as guidelines extracted from the analysis of surviving structures.
A prototype house was built by the Prajnopaya Foundation in the summer of 2005, during which the TDI team visited Sri Lanka for disaster recovery research. The team also collaborated with AsiaGSD to host a school-wide conference on post-disaster relief and planning management in 2006.