Houses that Breathe

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Peter
Williams is the Founding Director of ARCHIVE Global–an international non-profit
that uses housing/environmental design to improve health among the most
vulnerable. As an architect he has worked on 5 continents and taught at
universities around the world. Peter holds Masters Degrees in African Studies
and Architecture from the University of Oxford and Columbia University,
respectively. His work has been featured on BBC, ABC, in the Wall Street
Journal and leading design and health
journals. He was named among the 40 leaders under 40 in International
Development, is a Fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health and lectures
widely on architecture, public health and sustainability. Peter was recognized as an
Utne
Reader Visionary in 2009.


In 2004, few people were talking about
the connection between poorly ventilated, overcrowded houses and diseases like
HIV, AIDS, and tuberculosis. But architect Peter Williams was in South Africa, looking for links
between housing conditions and epidemics. He also noticed the fear and stigmatization that circulated alongside disease in areas with inadequate housing. When Williams started blogging about his
observations in 2005, he found that many were interested in what he had to say, and his ambitions grew into an organization. Since the 2006 founding of Architecture for Health In
Vulnerable Environments (ARCHIVE), Williams has encouraged doctors,
social scientists, architects, and communities to solve these problems together.

In June, ARCHIVE began construction on a “Breathe House” in Haiti. The thoughtfully
designed structure encourages community interaction, air circulation, water
catchment, and the use of solar electricity. The designers, Aja Bulla-Richards
and Sara Harper, aimed to create a modular structure that could be built with
local materials
. ARCHIVE worked with Initiative reCOVER
and the Building Goodness
Foundation
to design and construct the house.

Most importantly, ARCHIVE encourages local participation in building the
structures. According to a recent
blog post
on the site, “The most successful development projects are those
which integrate the local community, and that has been ARCHIVE Global’s aim in Haiti.
The Breathe House is designed to improve health and is specifically made to be
easily assembled without high levels of technical expertise. This means that
the community can replicate the health benefits by creating more houses with the
same design. This level of community participation is intended to mean that the
effects of our work in Haiti
will be long-lasting and sustainable.”

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