“Earth Home Project” investigates the rising challenges Pakistanis in rural areas have to face. The focus is on trying to find applicable solutions for people to erect affordable, stable and sustainable homes. Architecture plays a crucial role in finding new ways of designing by incorporating local materials and building techniques, thereby minimizing not only the cost but most importantly the reliance on the economic situation. The project started in Pakistan in 2011, initiated by Irshad Balouch, as a direct response to the flood that devastated his country during the summer of 2010 and the lack of support people in rural areas where given following the loss of their land. For most it is strictly impossible to build their houses on their own; the inflation in the cost of basic building materials forcing those able to acquire a loan to take on life-long debts often resulting in the loss of their land. The goal of the project is to acquire, develop and spread the necessary know-how required to build stable constructions, by involving residents of flood affected areas into the process of rebuilding their houses, accompanied by skilled craftsmen, employed by the project, and neighbors, there on a voluntary basis. The project (thanks to donations) is able to cover the unavoidable expenses of some basic building materials such as concrete and burned bricks for strong foundations, wood for window and door frames as well as basic tools. Locally sourced materials such as earth, straw and bamboo, contribute to the sustainability of the design since they are highly accessible, do not require heavy machinery, and empower people by virtue of those materials being relatively easy to acquire and handle. Sustainability, understood as an environmentally as well as socially responsible answer therefor becomes the starting point for the type of architectural thinking at the heart of “Earth Home Project”. Architecture can do more than just provide blueprints for prepackaged products of consumption if it integrates the process of construction and the production of materials as an integral part of what defines it. The hope is that this will enable the community to be more prepared against future disasters resulting from climate change. They will be able to rely on their neighbors and their own abilities to build up their life despite the cruel and unjust conditions of the economy which is pushing many into desperation and towards the margins. So far the endeavor has been able to help raise 121 homes around the area of Multan, which had been very badly affected by the flood due to its position in the Indus river basin.
By: Amandin Richard