DHSA GRANT REPORTS- Victoria Barbour-Smith
Victoria Barbour-Smith (2012) spent 8 weeks in 2013 working Ecuador for the Transitional team within the Ecohouse Initiative, Cambridge University student society.
'The Transitional team works as technical consultants with TECHO, a South American NGO building transitional houses in Latin American countries to improve design. As the only team member team in Quito, I organised the construction of two house prototypes including modifications agreed by the society throughout the year, and modifications for problems I saw whilst on placement. I talked to families living in existing TECHO house communities about issues they have, found locations to build both prototypes, sourced materials, addressed problems with the current house design, communicated design ideas to TECHO, physically made the panels for one house and ran the construction of both prototypes.
One prototype, a shelter for Quito's homeless children, was based on the current design used by TECHO Ecuador modified to resolve previous drawbacks. The second, a new design built on smaller plot sizes achieving the same floor space with a mezzanine floor.
It was a challenge to source required materials as those available and socially acceptable in Ecuador, differ from Brazil where the house was originally designed, and find a site where the house could remain to assess the design long term. I ran tests on items for TECHO Ecuador to implement: solar bottle lights, guttering, foundation piles treatment method, and designed a new window for TECHO's house.
A truly rewarding, enjoyable experience!